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Poland launches ground search after Russian cruise missile breaches airspace

Polish soldiers are shown searching an area in the country’s eastern Lublin region on Saturday, a day after leaders claimed a Russian cruise missile penetrated Poland’s airspace during an attack on Ukraine. Photo courtesy Polish Army Operational Command/ X
Dec. 30 (UPI) — Nearly 500 Polish troops were dispatched on Saturday to the eastern Lublin region to search for a Russian cruise missile that penetrated Polish airspace amid a massive barrage fired at Ukraine. The military launched the search mission to “make sure no remains of the object have remained in Poland,” later confirming nothing was found “that could threaten the safety of the inhabitants of the Lublin region,” the Polish Army said in a statement. Advertisement
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski said he contacted the chief diplomat of the Russian Federation, Andrei Ordash, on Friday to “request an explanation of the incident of violating Poland’s airspace by a cruise missile.”
Moscow denied responsibility, citing the lack of “concrete evidence” that it was a Russian missile violated Polish airspace.
Ordash dismissed the claim as “groundless” while pointing to a similar incident in late 2022, when a missile that was believed to be fired by Russia hit a Polish village, but months later Polish investigators concluded the errant strike was actually launched from Ukraine.
The Polish foreign ministry warned Moscow to “immediately cease this kind of activity” or Poland would respond “fast and effectively” to deter any further missile fire.
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Following the incident, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk held an emergency meeting with military chiefs and top national security officials in Warsaw.
The missile flew into Polish airspace early Friday morning “from the direction of the Ukraine border,” according to a statement from the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces.
The incident happened as Russia carried out its largest attack on Ukraine since the war began nearly two years ago, firing 158 missiles into the country, with Ukraine managing to intercept 114 of them.
The strikes damaged residential buildings and civilian infrastructure in several major cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhya Dnipro, Cherkasy, Sumy, and Lviv, which borders Poland.
The Russian cruise missile that reached Poland’s airspace flew for about three minutes and its radar signal faded before the military had the chance to shoot it down.
The country’s air defenses were placed on high alert during the episode while several F-16 fighter jets scrambled to the region as a precaution, the military said.
U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden was aware of the situation, and he expressed support for Poland, saying the administration would provide “technical assistance as needed” to its NATO ally.
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also discussed the incursion with Duda to reassure the Polish president the Western military alliance was ready to respond if necessary.

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