Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has blamed an operational commander of the Polish armed forces for failing to fulfill his duty after a Russian air defense missile landed on Polish territory in December last year.
Blaszczak presented a report which placed the blame on Operational Commander General Tomasz Piotrowski “for failing to fulfill duties in the reporting of the incident and during the search operation.”
In the report, Błaszczak details rocket debris found in a forest near Bydgoszcz in northern Poland which noted that Gen. Piotrowski failed to order a search operation for the missile and failed to report the incident.
“I have reviewed the results of the investigation. It was established that on Dec. 16, 2022, the Air Operations Center received a warning from Ukraine about an approaching object that could be a missile,” said Błaszczak during a press conference on May 11.
Błaszczak stated that “the operational commander failed to fulfill his directive duties” by not informing him, the Government Security Center (RCB), and other services about the rocket which entered Polish airspace or the debris that was found in the forest near Bydgoszcz. He added that the operational report from Dec. 16 did not indicate any violation or crossing of Polish airspace.
“Procedures and mechanisms for responding in such a situation worked correctly up to the level of the operational commander, who did not fulfill his obligations,” said Błaszczak, adding that the general did not mobilize enough resources in the search for the missile.
On April 27, the Polish Defense Ministry said military debris from an unidentified object was found near the village of Zamość, 15 kilometers from Bydgoszcz. Authorities stated that no traces of an explosion had been found. On the same day, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that he had instructed the defense minister to personally supervise the course of the investigation.
On April 28, Gen. Piotrowski stated that investigations were underway to determine the origin and path of the unidentified object. He referred to events from mid-December 2022 during one of Russia’s formidable airstrikes on Ukraine, when one object flew into the Polish airspace from Belarusian territory.
“Polish services monitored it, but lost its track around Bydgoszcz,” he said.
According to unofficial reports from RMF FM commercial radio, the Technical Institute of the Air Force confirmed that the military object found in Zamość near Bydgoszcz was a Russian air-launched KH-55 cruise missile.
The missile most likely crossed the eastern border of Poland. The institute excluded the version suggesting that the rocket was fired from a Polish range, as the Polish army does not have such equipment in its arsenal or warehouses.