From Poland with love: Warsaw missiles end up in militants' hands

Anti-aircraft missiles, which Poland sold to Georgia, have ended up in the hands of Chechen militants, according to Russian newspaper Isvestia. The article has caused a controversy which is far from being resolved any time soon.

The GROM missile, developed in Poland, is user-friendly, relatively cheap, and has a range of five kilometres. Its usual targets are low flying aircraft, such as helicopters, and because the missiles can be fired off the shoulder, they are easy to carry.

Just how far they've been carried is a question now being asked.

The Russian newspaper Isvestia claims to have found GROM Missiles, originally from Poland, in a deserted mountain village in Chechnya, and insists they got there via Georgia.

The Polish Foreign Ministry strongly denies sending weapons to Chechen fighters, which, it says, would breach international law, but it freely admits to selling one hundred GROM missiles to Georgia in an arms deal, which it says was entirely lawful and open.

“Poland is a responsible seller of arms, and acts in accordance with international law. Georgia is one of the partners of Poland and that is the reason why these arms have been sold to Georgia,” said Pawel Zalewski, an independent member of the Polish parliament and the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

Commenting on how GROM rockets ended up in Chechnya, a Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman said the ministry “had reasons to suppose that the sets of rockets found in Chechnya may come from stores of weapons taken by Russian or Ossetian units during the military operation in Georgia in August this year.”

However, the newly emerging relations between countries like Georgia and Poland are provoking suspicion in Russia.

“The West always hatches up all kinds of schemes to weaken Russia, to undermine its security. For this purpose, it uses regimes in countries like Georgia, people like Kaczynski in Poland, or Yushchenko in Ukraine,” says military analyst Leonid Ivashov, who is the president of the Academy of Geopolitics.

This viewpoint is not only held in Russia, but shared by Polish journalist Andrzej Rozenek. He’s the deputy editor-in-chief of the political newspaper Nie. He says the selling of arms to Georgia was done quietly and in secret.

“The Polish government and special agents do these deals, but nobody knows about it. It’s like an inside business. I do think they are acting according to the law, but it’s a dangerous game and everything they are doing is to destabilise the region,” Andrzej believes.

However, the majority of Polish analysts deny that Poland has an ulterior motive, and say it has no reason to be hostile to Russia.