WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that it has detected an object in Polish airspace that flew in from the direction of Belarus, and that it’s probably an observation balloon.
The ministry tweeted that radar contact with the object was lost near Rypin, a town in central Poland 143 kilometers (89) northwest of the capital, Warsaw.
The ministry said that the Territorial Defense Forces were deployed to search for the object.
The development reported Saturday follows two other known incursions into Poland’s airspace since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which lies on Poland’s eastern border.
In November, two Polish men were killed when a missile landed in eastern Poland. Western officials said they believed a Ukrainian air defense missile went astray as Ukrainian air forces tried to repel a large-scale attack by Russia.
Polish military and political officials are also facing questions about another object that landed on Polish territory in December, but which was only discovered in April by chance by a member of the public who was riding her horse in a forest.
The issue is raising questions about the authorities’ handling of its air defenses amid new risks created by the war in Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were only informed of the December airspace incursion in late April.
The National Security Bureau, a body that advises the president on security and defense matters, said Friday that its head, Jacek Siewiera, and Duda were informed on April 26 about the object, which the bureau said “may be a Russian-made cruise missile .”
Officials have said that no traces of explosives were found at the site where the aerial object was discovered.
Defense Minister Mariusz BÅ‚aszczak this week pointed to the operational commander of the armed forces as being to blame for not properly informing political leaders of the object. Army leaders have pushed back against that claim, insisting they fulfilled their duties properly.
The political opposition has been calling for the dismissal of BÅ‚aszczak over that matter.
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