On Nov 16, 2022, a missile hit a Polish village and killed two farmers. The killing of any noncombatants in a war is a tragedy: the killing of two civilians in a country that has not yet entered the conflict has the potential of dragging the previously neutral party into the conflict. Regardless of whether the Ukrainians or Russians first fired the missile, the event has the potential to worsen an already dire set of circumstances.
Here, I want to walk you through what happened. From there, I’ll give my thoughts on the immediate and long-term consequences of this incident, as well as some cautionary ideas about how NATO may play a role here.
Summary of Events
As I mentioned above, a missile struck a small farming village in Poland on Nov 16, which killed two farmers. Given that both Ukraine and Russia have large, relatively modern militaries, either country could have fired the missile.
As of now, Russia has vehemently denied firing the missile, and has expressed a desire to respect Polish neutrality in the conflict: the two countries have had a cool relationship, if not a friendly one, since the breakup of the Soviet Union three decades ago.
Ukraine has similarly denied firing the missile, citing that doing so would make no sense, as Poland is actively facilitating arms flows into Ukraine.
Of course, one of those two is lying to us. In international relations, the actual events that occurred do matter, of course. But, what might matter more is whose perception of events is the one that the world at large comes to accept. So, I will reserve my judgment on what happened until the end, and, instead, present what might happen next if the Russians could have potentially launched the missile, in terms of short and medium term consequences with NATO already on edge.