1683954156 Discovery of probably Russian missile in Poland sparks political storm

Discovery of ‘probably Russian missile’ in Poland sparks political storm

An aerial view of the site where the remains of a military object were discovered in a forest near the city of Bydgoszcz, Poland, April 27, 2023. Aerial view of the place where the remains of a military object were discovered in a forest near the city of Bydgoszcz, Poland April 27, 2023. KACPER PEMPEL/ Portal

In late April 2023, a passerby found the remains of a “military air object” in a forest – a Russian KH-55 cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which Polish media said would have crashed in December near Bydgoszcz in northern Poland, roughly 500 km from the eastern border. This debris is now at the heart of a political storm in this NATO member country that aspires to become a European military power.

The populist-nationalist government, which has so far remained silent on the matter, publicly commented on the issue for the first time on Thursday, May 11. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak accused the commander of the forces of neglecting to search for the remains of the projectile and not informing anyone about the incident. However, Mr Blaszczak did not request his resignation or his suspension.

However, the Polish soldiers and their American counterparts present in Poland followed the plane’s flight closely, including from their planes, he added. “We are in contact with our Polish colleagues in this regard. We’re trying to find out a little more,” National Security Council spokesman John Kerby told reporters in Washington on Friday.

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appeal to reason”

For his part, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured that he was only informed about this affair at the end of April, even if the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Rajmund Andrzejczak, states that he disclosed it to those responsible “at the time of the events”.

On Friday, the National Security Bureau (BBN), which is linked to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is the constitutional commander-in-chief of the armed forces, stressed that the information it had on the incident “would not justify personal decisions within the command”. of the armed forces”. According to BBN, “no conclusion was presented” to the President in this case.

Without commenting on the allegations against him, the commander of the forces, General Tomasz Piotrowski, on Friday called for “reason”, “weigh the emotions” and said to “trust” the Polish judiciary.

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At the same time, the leader of the centrist Polish opposition, Donald Tusk, argued that “the first decision to be taken” was to sack Mr Blaszczak, who he said was trying to “hide behind the generals”. Centrist former Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, for his part, called “propaganda” the incumbent’s repeated promise that Poland would have “the strongest army in Europe” within two years. “The king is naked,” Mr Siemoniak concluded to the press. For its part, the left denounced “the lies” and “the manipulations” of power.

Almost 10,000 American soldiers on Polish soil

According to Polish media, the rocket, which featured inscriptions in Cyrillic script, did not have an armed head, which has not been confirmed by any official source so far. The city of Bydgoszcz, near which the missile struck, is home to large Polish armed forces, NATO institutions and weapons factories.

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As a direct neighbor of Ukraine, Poland notably hosts about 10,000 American troops on its soil as part of the Atlantic Alliance and has just started enforcing arms purchases to bolster its own defense capabilities. In July, Warsaw signed framework agreements with South Korea for 1,000 K2 tanks, 672 K9A1 self-propelled howitzers, 50 FA-50 fighter jets and 288 K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher systems. In addition, the first of 32 American F-35 aircraft are expected in Poland next year.

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On Wednesday, Minister Blaszczak said he intends to sign a deal with Washington to purchase 96 Apache helicopters for his country and that the first Himars multiple rocket launchers should arrive in Poland in May.

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The world with AFP