- By Adam Easton
- BBC News, Warsaw
The commander of the Polish Armed Forces believes a Russian missile entered Poland for about three minutes and then returned to Ukrainian airspace.
Gen. Wieslaw Kokula said the missile traveled about 40 kilometers (25 miles) into Polish airspace early Friday.
This warning coincided with what Ukraine described as the largest day of Russian air strikes since the start of the war.
President Andrzej Duda held an emergency security meeting after radar detected the object.
About 200 police officers are conducting a search in the area where the object was discovered in anticipation of the missile falling on Polish territory.
Poland is a member of NATO, and Polish and allied aircraft were scrambled in response to the incident at around 07:00 (06:00 GMT) on Friday. There were no reports of an explosion.
Operations Command spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jacek Goryszewski, said that an unknown object entered Poland from Ukraine near the town of Zamosc, in the Lublin region in southeastern Poland, not far from the border.
He told private channel TVN24 that the event may be linked to the Russian missile and drone attack on some of Ukraine's largest cities.
At least 30 people were killed in the attacks that targeted Lviv, the closest Ukrainian city to the Lublin region, as well as Dnipro, Kiev and other cities.
An unconfirmed report said that a search operation was being conducted near the town of Hrubchov.
The Polish government did not rule out Russian provocation. Deputy Defense Minister Stanislav Ziatek told TVN24: “We need to check whether this is a provocation or a test of our reaction. We must check both scenarios carefully.”
Polish military expert Commander Maximilian Dora told TVN24 that it was too early to conclude that it was a Russian missile because it was not found, and just because contact was lost, it could not be confirmed that it left Polish airspace.
Krzysztof Komorski, President of Lublin Governorate [equivalent to a province or region] “Please calm down and be patient, services are working,” he wrote on social media.
Since the Russian invasion and war against Ukraine, three missiles have entered Poland.
In November 2022, two Polish farmers were killed by a missile that landed in the village of Przevodov near the Ukrainian border. It is believed that the Ukrainian air defense forces fired the missile to repel a Russian missile attack.
In a harmless but more embarrassing incident in December last year, an object believed to be an unarmed Russian Kh-55 cruise missile was launched from Belarus and crossed about 500 kilometers of Polish territory before landing in a forest.
The object, which was discovered by Polish air defenses at the time, was only found in April this year by a passer-by not far from the city of Bydgoszcz in central Poland.
Another unknown object that entered Polish airspace this year from the direction of Belarus was probably a surveillance balloon. Radar contact with it was lost near Repin in central Poland.
Both sides of Poland's political scene have seized on the latest event to score points.
Poland's new Defense Minister, Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamisz, stressed in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that security forces “moved immediately” towards the latest incident, reassuring Poles that “the country is moving!”
His predecessor, Mariusz Blaszczak, of the right-wing PiS-led government that lost power in the October elections and served as defense minister during the previous two events, responded: “We don’t know what fell in the Tomaszow Lubelski area. We don’t know if anyone was injured. No.” We know why the anti-aircraft defense systems did not work. Is the state taking action?
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