A missile hit eastern Poland during Russia's mass strike. As this seems to be the first time when a missile hits NATO territory, this created a lot of reactions ranging from more cerebral to discussion of imminent article 5 triggering and NATO-Russia war.

According to The Guardian and also very briefly covered in this The Kyiv Independent article, many Western leaders convey the message that the missile is likely a Ukrainian air defense one. However, it is considered more of an accident and no one puts blame on the Ukrainian army, but the Russian army which lead to this:

Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has said there is no evidence to suggest the missile strike on Przewodów was an intentional attack or was launched by Russia

Jens Stoltenberg, confirmed that initial analysis suggested the incident was “likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory” against Russian cruise missile attacks.

Joe Biden, also said the missile was unlikely to have been fired from Russia due to its trajectory.

However, president Zelenski has said he is convinced that the missile was not Ukrainian.

I am wondering about the rationale of Zelenski's declaration so shortly after the accident. Why not wait until the investigation is (almost) done? It is clear that no Western ally would put a blame on Ukrainian forces (basically nothing to lose here) regardless of the origin of the missile. However, such a declaration risks creating some communication inconsistency within NATO + the Ukrainian block.

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    The rationale is to blame Russia as often as possible for propaganda reasons - Ukraine is at war. (most of the time that blame is fully deserved). But of course, you know that already, so why exactly are you asking the question? Nov 16, 2022 at 21:17
  • As was said in another comment, the missile being fired by Russia can do a lot to help Ukraine and it being fired from Ukraine (even if it was in defense) could be used to hurt Ukraine.
    – Joe W
    Nov 16, 2022 at 22:04
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    Perhaps Zelenskii simply tells the truth - after all, he is well positioned to know what happened, while everyone else can speak only in probabilistic terms (likely/unlikely/no evidence). Nov 17, 2022 at 6:48
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    @RogerVadim well, there is an AWACS flying around Poland all the time and it is in the best position to know what has happened. The only problem is how much you trust American operators that report its findings. Nov 17, 2022 at 10:25
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    @TadeuszKopec AWACS merely watch the rockets, whereas, Ukrainians have first-hand information about what they fired and what they didn't fire. Also, it is not about trust to the operator only, but to the whole chain - from the operator to the president making the announcement. Nov 17, 2022 at 10:40

2 Answers 2


The world is functioning in what is sometimes dubbed the 24-hour news cycle. What is on the headlines today will be old news tomorrow. Being at war, Ukraine seems to feel the need to get their positions into this news cycle before they have time for a calm investigation. They apparently judged that the short-term benefits are more important than any long-term damage to their reputation for impartial reporting.

(Personally I believe that they would do better with more careful messaging, but 'I need ammunition, not a ride.' is iconic for their style. They think they don't have the time to get it right.)

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    "Getting ahead of the story" is definitely what happened at first, though that may be less applicable to the 2nd part, once Biden n co started talking about Ukrainian missiles. But you're right, now that it seems non-Russian, everyone is losing attention. Ride it out, it'll be half-forgotten by the time an Ukrainian apology comes out. DW had a team youtubing the village in Poland: they are relieved it's a UA missile because the alternative, RU stepping up to attack NATO, is so much worse. Big kudos to Biden for quickly talking down RU guilt. Nov 17, 2022 at 17:49

This air defense rocket could belong to Ukraine but not necessarily. Belarus is near enough.

It still can be a provocation, even if with exactly the same narrative (defense rocket hit other country by chance). Zelenskyy is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and may have the report, how many of these rockets have been launched on they side and approximately where. It may have reasons to think that this one does not belong to them. S-300 can fly up to 120 miles, near 200 km. Maybe more if prepared for specific mission. Przewodów is somewhat 130 km from Belarus. Why exactly it really cannot be?

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The decision seems made to ignore the provocation, if any. It is not unusual that the data from military radars have not been shared as such data may indirectly reveal capabilities and limitations of these radars.

  • Poland and the US seem certain, but their statements leave wriggle room for the scenario you propose. Still, I expect they had radars running and recording, so one would have to explain why they don't backUkraine if they could.
    – o.m.
    Nov 17, 2022 at 11:40

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