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Poland carried out thorough ground search after Russian missile breached NATO airspace

31.12.2023 07:32
Polish defence minister announced that the country's military carried out a thorough ground search in the eastern Lubelskie voivodship, after a Russian cruise missile entered Polish airspace on Friday morning.
Polish troops searching a forest in the eastern Lubelskie province
Polish troops searching a forest in the eastern Lubelskie provincePhoto: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz

"An operation to verify the trajectory of a missile in the Lubelskie voivodship is now finished. Thank you to all our troops and allies... Good job," Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said on the X social media platform.

The General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces said the operation, involving almost 500 Polish troops, finished around 3 p.m. on Saturday, and no traces of remains have been found.

"We have not found anything that could pose a threat to the security of the residents of the Lubelskie voivodship," the military said.

On Friday evening, Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski summoned chargé d’affaires of the Russian Federation Andrei Ordash to “request an explanation of the incident of violating Poland's airspace by a cruise missile,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It also urged Russia to “immediately cease this kind of activity.”

The deputy foreign minister told reporters afterwards he had informed the Russian chargé d’affaires that Poland would respond "fast and effectively" if such an incident happened again, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Earlier in the day, Poland's leaders including President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, military chiefs and top security officials held urgent talks, after the Polish Army said that on Friday morning an "unidentified air object has flown into Polish airspace from the direction of the Ukraine border, and was monitored by air defences until its signal died down."

On Friday afternoon, the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces said in a statement that "an object violated Polish airspace at 7:12 a.m. local time from the direction of the border with Ukraine, before leaving Poland's territory after less than three minutes."

The object was a "Russian cruise missile," military officials added.

The missile's trajectory was followed by Polish and allied radiolocation systems, while the Polish army also put "air defences on standby" and "dispatched F-16 fighter jets" to patrol the area where the missile crossed into Polish airspace, among other measures, the General Staff in Warsaw said. 

America's national security advisor Jake Sullivan "expressed the United States’ solidarity with Poland, our close NATO Ally, as it deals with reports of a missile temporarily entering Polish airspace," according to officials.

Following talks with the head of Poland's National Security Bureau (BBN) Jacek Siewiera, Sullivan also "pledged technical assistance as needed and assured his Polish counterpart that President Biden is following this issue closely."

Meanwhile, Poland's Siewiera "expressed appreciation for U.S. support, and they stated their governments will remain in close contact," the White House said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who earlier spoke to Polish President Andrzej Duda about the "incursion into Polish airspace," said the Western alliance "stands in solidarity with our valued ally" over the missile incident in Poland.

Saturday is day 675 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Source: IAR, PAP