What happened in Przewodów?


The European Union Center is grateful to publish a brief piece by Professor George Gasyna on the Polish press’s reporting on the missile that killed two Polish citizens on November 15, 2022. The European press is presenting the accident as an event that almost led to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, with potential unfathomable consequences for the world. The EUC asked Professor Gasyna to inform us on how the Polish press is discussing the incident and to monitor the Polish reactions to the events. Professor Gasyna is a scholar of Polish culture and literature at UIUC.

By George Gasynaggasyna@illinois.edu

Aftershocks of the (likely) unintended missile incident in southeast Poland late on November 15 that killed two civilians have continued to reverberate in the media sphere as new information comes to light. The consensus being established now is that the two missiles that struck a grain depot in the small village of Przewodów were launched by Ukrainian air defense forces. Ongoing investigation by Polish military officials and the district attorney’s office [Prokuratura] is moving toward the conclusion that the two missiles were deployed to intercept Russian rockets or armed drones that had been targeting Lviv Oblast [Province].[1] Mainstream Polish media – Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, TVN – are near unanimous about this version of the events,[2] supported by wire dispatches from Western opinionmakers such as Associated Press, as well as American sources including CNN, MSNBC, and other news outlets that have widely reported on the incident, including reactions by the Biden presidency. The narrative of a “lost, wandering Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile”[3] appears to be the official version, reiterated by both President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in statements to the press. There has, however, been no shortage of commentaries by alternative media, especially on the right. In venues such as wpolityce.pl,[4] as well as in the blogosphere, a counter-theory of an unprovoked Russian attack on Polish soil seems to carry the day, prompting calls for swift and decisive retaliation – a revanchist mood brought on, in part, by what seemed like hesitation on the part of the government to issue its official statement. Its initial “suspicious” silence has lent support to a number of conspiracy theories about the causes and sequence of events in Przewodów.[5] Authorities are basing their conclusions in part on a film which purportedly shows the explosion – from which the likely direction of the incoming missiles can be inferred – but the clips have not been made available to the public, due to the sensitive nature of the investigation.[6]


[3]  https://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/7,114883,29151355,krater-szczatki-nagrania-i-dane-z-radarow-sekwencja-zdarzen.html#s=BoxMMtImg1; [Wszyscy mówią zgodnie to samo, o zabłąkanej ukraińskiej rakiecie przeciwlotniczej] gazeta.pl; accessed November 17, 2022

[4] See, for example, https://wpolityce.pl/spoleczenstwo/622218-tak-wyglada-miejsce-na-ktore-spadly-rosyjskie-rakiety; or “Co się stało w Przewodowie?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO-zElEvKf0; accessed November 16, 2022.

[5] https://podcasty.rp.pl/rzecz-w-tym/24442-eksplozja-w-przewodowie-za-dluga-cisza-rzadu;  Rzeczpospolita [rp.pl]; accessed November 17, 2022.