Political storm over possible Russian missile found deep in Poland

Political storm over ‘possible Russian missile’ found deep in Poland

The announcement of the discovery of the remains of a “probably Russian” missile in the heart of Poland sparked a political storm in Warsaw, with the opposition clamoring for the resignation of the defense minister who wants to turn his country into a European military power.

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At the end of April, according to Polish media, the remains of a “military air object” were found by a passerby in a forest near Bydgoszcz – a Russian cruise missile KH-55 capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which had crashed in December , in the north, about 500 km from the eastern border of this NATO member country.

The populist-nationalist government, which has been silent on the matter, made its first public comment on the matter on Thursday.

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.

For his part, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured that he was only informed about this matter at the end of April, even if the chief of the defense staff, General Rajmund Andrzejczak, stated that he disclosed it to the officials “at the time of the facts”.

On Friday, the National Security Bureau (BBN), which reports to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who is constitutionally the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, stressed that the information it had on the incident “would not justify any decisions by personnel within the Armed Forces Command.” 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.

At the same time, Donald Tusk, leader of the centrist Polish opposition, took the view that “the first decision to be taken” was to sack Mr Blaszczak, who he said was trying to “hide behind the generals”.

Former centrist Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, for his part, called “propaganda” the current minister’s repeated promises 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.

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.

As a direct neighbor of Ukraine, Poland notably hosts around 10,000 American soldiers on its soil within the framework of NATO and has just started massive arms purchases to strengthen 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.

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.