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Geopolitics

General Kukuła: Russian Missile Violated and Left the Polish Airspace

Deputy PM, Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, Chief of the General Staff gen. Wiesław Kukuła, and Operational Commander div. gen. Maciej Klisz, after a meeting at the National Security Bureau, on 29th December 2023.
Photo. Jakub Borowski, Defence24

A Russian missile has violated the Polish airspace, and probably left it, flying back into Ukraine, Wiesław Kukuła, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces announced. Search teams have been deployed to the area to confirm the radar data, as he added.

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„Today morning the Polish airspace was violated by an object that was detected by our systems”, the Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Deputy PM, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said after a meeting called by the President, also involving the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, and the Operational Commander. Kosiniak-Kamysz stressed the fact that allied and national systems worked well here and that good coordination and cooperation were established, with information exchange happening between the President, and the government.

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“All signs suggest that a Russian missile violated the Polish airspace, it was radar-tracked by us, and left the airspace, we have allied and national radar data at hand to confirm that”, General Kukuła said.

He stressed that “these are just technical measures, thus we decided to verify this on the ground”, search teams have been sent to the area to verify whether no mistakes were made when defining the missile trajectory. SAR teams from two Territorial Defence Brigades were sent to look for the potential wreckage. The Police also deployed 200 officers in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, to address and handle the same task.

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„This has been a tough night for Ukraine, as a joint saturation strike was launched aimed at overwhelming the Ukrainian air defences with strike drones, and Ukraine managed to contain it relatively well, and that airstrike was followed by a missile strike launched mainly by the Russian long-range aviation, missiles were launched from the Caspian Sea region”, Kukuła elaborated. „We have been tracking the flight trajectory of most of those missiles, we had information on the scope and direction of their movement”, he noted.

As the Head of the General Staff Said, „One of those missiles violated the Polish airspace, and later, as all signs suggest, it has left”.

As the airspace was violated, fighters were scrambled „to intercept, and should a need emerge, shoot down the missile”, however, the duration of presence in the Polish airspace, and the maneuvers performed by the missile, „made that maneuver impossible, and thus the missile managed to leave the Polish territory”.

“The technology may fail at times, which we have been learning the hard way many times, hence the verification of radar tracks on the ground”, Kukuła explained, referring to the deployment of ground teams.

He asked the citizens for understanding and added that the information on the booms made by the missiles in the area may stem from the fact that the local citizens interpreted the sonic booms created by Polish and allied aircraft as sounds created by the missiles.

The Operational Commander, Div. Gen. Maciej Klisz also emphasized the interoperability between national and allied air and ground assets, and the necessity to verify the radar data. „Around 7 AM the systems that remain at my (Operational Commander’s) disposal, did work properly”, he told the journalists. He noted that the trajectory of the missile flying above the Polish territory was tracked by radars, but „based on the past experiences”, land and air assets were engaged „to safely negate the object falling on the ground within the Polish territory”. As he said, the object was present in the Polish airspace for little less than 3 minutes, at a depth of ca. 40 kilometres.

The operational commander said that a scenario in which the missile left the Polish airspace seems the most probable one. Klisz noted that the Armed Forces were tracking numerous missiles, with just one violating the Polish airspace. He added that the „air defence system was activated yesterday night”, and that the long-range aviation strike against Ukraine was not a surprise.

According to Grażyna Ignaczak-Bandych, President’s Chief of Staff, the “President received comprehensive information” on the knowledge that the Armed Forces have, on the discussed event. „The President remains in touch with the Deputy PM, Head of the MoD, he is also in constant touch with the PM and receives information in an ongoing manner”, Ignaczak-Bandych said. “The most important thing is that nothing happened to anybody, and secondly, that conclusions are drawn, with procedures being refined, and working well”, she added.

The meeting at the National Security Bureau also involved the Permanent Representative of Poland to NATO, Tomasz Szatkowski, Deputy Head at the National Security Bureau General Dariusz Łukowski, and Presidential Ministers: Marcin Mastalarek, Mieszko Pawlak, Wojciech Kolarski.

President Duda also spoke to the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

A meeting was also held at midday, involving PM Donald Tusk, Chief of the General Staff, and the Operational Commander of the Armed Forces, along with the Head of the MoD, Minister-Coordinator for the Intelligence Services, and Heads of the Internal Security Agency, Military Intelligence, and Military Counterintelligence. Back in November, an object fell in Przewodów (most probably a Ukrainian air defence system missile), causing the death of two. Back then Russians also conducted a massive airstrike against Ukraine.

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