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30 Dec, 2023 07:00

Poland summons Russian diplomat over alleged missile breach

Warsaw claims the violation took place during airstrikes on targets throughout Ukraine on Friday
Poland summons Russian diplomat over alleged missile breach

Poland has summoned Russian Charge d’Affaires Andrey Ordash and demanded an explanation for an alleged violation of Polish airspace by a missile they claim to be Russian, the NATO country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday evening.

Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Wladyslaw Teofil Bartoszewski, handed Ordash a note demanding an explanation of the incident and “an immediate cessation of such activities,” the ministry wrote.

The Polish military claimed that a Russian missile entered the country’s airspace from the direction of Ukraine before veering back over Ukrainian territory on Friday morning, without providing evidence that the projectile was of Russian origin.

The Russian charge d’affaires called the claim “unsubstantiated” in an interview with RIA Novosti, adding that Poland will not receive any explanations until it provides evidence.

Warsaw claims that the missile traveled around 40km into Polish airspace in the early hours of Friday morning. General Wieslaw Kukula, the chief of staff of the Polish armed forces, said in a briefing on Friday that the missile entered Poland for almost three minutes and then returned to Ukrainian airspace. “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 alleged airspace violation took place during an intense wave of Russian missile and drone strikes on targets throughout Ukraine on Friday. Russia’s Defense Ministry described the barrage as “massive,” and said that it targeted airfields, ammunition dumps, barracks, and other military infrastructure sites. The incident prompted Polish President Andrzej Duda to convene an emergency meeting of the National Security Council.

A similar incident in November 2022 was later found to be the fault of a Ukrainian air defense system. Two farmers were killed when a stray Ukrainian anti-air missile fell on the Polish border town of Przewodow, hitting a grain storage facility. Polish investigators concluded in September 2023 that the missile in question was Ukraine’s. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky initially blamed the incident on Russia and demanded a response from NATO, before the leaders of the US-led alliance publicly stated that the missile was Ukrainian.

Commenting on the recent missile incident on Friday afternoon, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg refrained from blaming Moscow, stating instead that the US-led bloc would “stay vigilant” as “the facts are established.”