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29 Dec, 2023 16:29

Mystery ‘missile’ enters Polish airspace

Warsaw has blamed Russia, but NATO is reserving judgment
Mystery ‘missile’ enters Polish airspace

The Polish military has claimed that a Russian missile entered the country’s airspace from the direction of Ukraine before veering back over Ukrainian territory. Warsaw did not provide proof that the projectile was of Russian origin, and a similar incident last year was later found to be the fault of a Ukrainian air defense system.

The object traveled around 40 kilometers into Polish airspace in the early hours of Friday morning, before turning back west towards Ukrainian skies, General Wieslaw Kukula, chief of staff of the Polish armed forces, said in a briefing on Friday.

“Everything indicates that a Russian missile entered Polish airspace,” Kukula said, adding that fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the projectile, but failed to reach it before it “left our airspace.”

The apparent airspace violation took place during an intense wave of Russian missile and drone strikes on targets throughout Ukraine. Russia’s defense ministry described the barrage as “massive,” and said that it targeted airfields, ammunition dumps, barracks, and other military infrastructure sites.

Kukula did not provide any additional information to back up his claim that Russia had fired the missile. Commenting on the incident on Friday afternoon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not pin the blame on Moscow, instead stating that the US-led bloc would “stay vigilant” as “the facts are established.”

The missile crossed the Polish border near the village of Przewodow, Kukula said. Last year, a stray Ukrainian air defense missile – launched during a similar Russian barrage – killed two farmers when it fell on Przewodow. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky initially blamed the blast on a Russian missile, and demanded a NATO response, before the leaders of the US-led alliance publicly admitted that the missile in question was Ukraine’s.

A report by Polish investigators published in September “conclusively” proved that a Ukrainian missile hit Przewodow.

Although Kukula said that the missile left Polish airspace, a police search was underway on Friday evening near where the projectile was detected.

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