On November 15, a serious development in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine occurred when a Russian missile landed in Poland. The missile landed in Przewodow, a rural village in Poland about four miles across the border from Ukraine. The missile strike killed two people, and sparked fears that the war in Ukraine could expand further into Europe. Russia launched 96 missiles that day, but 77 were shot down by Ukrainian forces, according to the Washington Post. The missile was from the Soviet era, which both sides have been using frequently throughout the conflict.
The significance of this missile landing occurring in Poland as opposed to Ukraine is because Poland is a member of NATO and Ukraine is not. As a result, a missile landing in a NATO country could bring every other NATO country further into the conflict, including a military response. This would include the United States, which is also a NATO member.
Although initial reports were alarming, the missile was later understood to have been accidentally fired by the Ukrainian military in response to other ongoing Russian missile attacks. The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, explained that although the rocket was Russian made, the strike was likely an accident with no intention of escalating the war further, according to CNN. Additionally, the Polish government is investigating further. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky denied that this missile was launched from Ukraine and called for more investigation. The Russian government also denied any involvement with the missile strike. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said, “We have long ago stopped being surprised by your attempts, in any circumstances in spite of fact or common sense, to blame Russia for everything,” according to CNN.
The missile attack was a part of a wave of Russian missile strikes against Ukraine as Russia tries to recapture territory is has lost across Ukraine. Recent strikes have targeted Ukraine’s infrastructure, with around 10 million losing electricity, according to the Associated Press. More outages are expected, according to CNN, which has led many to worry about how these outages could impact Ukrainians as a cold winter nears. Overall, Ukraine has regained a lot of territory in the past few months, but Russia has still been responding aggressively. This includes a wave of new soldiers from the nearly 300,000 men Russia called up to serve in the war. Despite backlash against these new conscriptions, Russia has been moving forward with this new phase of the invasion. This includes bringing many of these new soldiers to the front lines with little training to continue the invasion, despite many recent setbacks as a result of the Ukrainian counter-offensives.
The response from world leaders was swift, especially from leaders such as President Biden. Many were attending the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia when the news of the strike broke. In response to the news, President Biden gathered world leaders to respond. The US has been a key ally for Ukraine, with the Associated Press reporting that the US has spent $18.6 billion to support Ukraine. Other supporters of Ukraine include the UN Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who responded to the news of Ukraine’s accidental strike by saying, “Let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”