NewsRussian Missile Violates Polish Airspace Amid Heightened Tensions

Russian Missile Violates Polish Airspace Amid Heightened Tensions

Polish F-16 and a map with missile paths that were circling over Ukraine on the night of March 23/24
Polish F-16 and a map with missile paths that were circling over Ukraine on the night of March 23/24
Images source: © PAP
5:44 PM EDT, March 25, 2024

"The inadvertent incursion of Russian missiles into Polish airspace for 39 seconds may be a sign of error. However, actions taken at the border are intentional," comments General Bogusław Pacek in an interview with WP.

Overnight, the Lviv region of Ukraine, which shares a border with Poland, was attacked by Russian missiles and drones. Unexpectedly, one Russian missile breached Polish airspace. The Operational Command of the Armed Forces reported that this occurred at 10:23 PM Eastern Time on Sunday. Launched by Russian forces, the missile flew over the village of Oserdów in the Ulhówek municipality before returning to Ukraine, spending 39 seconds in Polish territory.

The village headman of Oserdów shared his account of the missile's trajectory with WP.

On Sunday, National Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz announced that in response to the threat over Ukrainian territory, Poland had activated all air defense systems and forces. "We monitored a number of missiles heading towards the Lviv region and exchanged information with Ukraine," he explained.

"General Klisz, the operational commander responsible for decisive actions, analyzed the situation thoroughly and made a decision that ensured Poland's security," stated the National Defense Minister.

In an interview with "Rzeczpospolita," General Maciej Klisz mentioned that Poland is equipped to potentially intercept and destroy a missile. "The technical capability is not the main concern," he said, noting the consideration given to potential dangers posed by falling missile debris on urban areas.

Bogusław Pacek: Enhancing Poland's Response to Missile Threats

According to General Bogusław Pacek, Poland's missile response capabilities are comparable to those of other European nations in this region.

"Our primary response mechanism involves deploying ready aircraft pairs, capable of quickly intercepting and neutralizing missiles. Hence, whenever a threat emerges over Ukraine, our and allied fighters are dispatched, prepared to act at any time," says Bogusław Pacek, the former rector of the National Defense Academy, in his conversation with WP.

"Another defense option involves Patriot systems, which we possess. It's crucial, however, to understand that their operational range is up to 99 miles, so the systems need to be positioned within proximity to the threat. If a missile crossed at Suwałki's latitude but the launcher was near Rzeszów, usage would be impossible," notes General Pacek.

The former military official emphasizes Poland's ongoing efforts to enhance its air threat response capabilities.

"We're focusing on improving our air defense, especially at the medium range. For an increase in effectiveness, a substantial deployment of Patriot launchers is required, as part of the ongoing 'Wisła' program," reveals Bogusław Pacek.

"We cannot claim our system guarantees 100 percent effectiveness against all missiles or aircraft breaching our borders. Such infallible systems do not exist," he underscores.

Recently, Russian aggression towards targets in Ukraine has escalated. And once again, a Russian missile ventured into Polish airspace. A similar incident had previously occurred on December 29 of the last year near the Komarów-Osada municipality close to Zamość.

"Russia has stated that its actions in Ukraine represent not a special operation but a war, implicating the West as well. This declaration underpins Russia's current strategy of intimidation, which carries military, diplomatic, and significant psychological-propaganda dimensions. The psychological impact, in particular, targets Western countries, not just Ukraine," asserts Bogusław Pacek in his discussion with WP.

He argues that the military activities near the border are designed to instill a fear of Russia.

"Indeed, the brief violation of Polish airspace by a Russian missile might indicate an error. Yet, border operations are no accident but a calculated move," asserts Bogusław Pacek.

"The present circumstances underscore the importance of reinforcing air defense along Poland's eastern border, necessitating collaboration with other NATO members," asserts the former academy rector.

Strategies Behind Depleting Ukraine and Intimidating the West

Last night, the Russian military launched air strikes on Kyiv and the Lviv region. In Kyiv, about ten missiles were intercepted, whereas towards the Lviv region, 20 missiles and 7 drones were directed, targeting critical infrastructure, as reported by Maksym Kozicki, a regional authority head.

"What we are witnessing from Russia is not an immediate strategy to conquer Ukraine but rather a tactic to deplete Ukrainian resources ahead of a more perilous phase aimed at achieving definitive objectives," anticipates General Pacek.

He observes that such tactics intended to weaken Western resolve partially reflect Putin's strategy, which has seen varying degrees of success. However, the response from European nations varies significantly from that of the United States, where the focus lies not on intimidation but on the implications of presidential elections and the stagnation of US aid for Ukraine in Congress.

"The reaction among European countries is mixed. Nations like the Baltic states, Poland, Germany, France, and Britain express unwavering support for Ukraine and strongly oppose Russia. Conversely, countries like Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria hesitate, pondering the consequences of provoking Russia. Such hesitation demonstrates the effectiveness of Putin's strategy," evaluates Bogusław Pacek.

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