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The Polish Missile Crisis

The discovery of a large Russian missile inside Poland has triggered a wave of political recrimination and finger-pointing, even though the blame clearly lies with the defense minister and his allies in the ruling party. Worse, the incident confirms that Poland’s skies are nowhere near as safe as its leaders claim.

WARSAW – On December 16, 2022, a Russian KH-55 missile flew halfway across Poland before landing 12 kilometers outside Bydgoszcz, a city of over 300,000 people that is host to five NATO units and the Joint Forces Training Center. NATO’s largest producer of TNT, Nitro-Chem, is in nearby Belma. The Russian missile, designed to carry a nuclear payload of up to 200 kilotons – 13 times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima – was six meters long and weighed 1.7 tons. Fortunately, it appears to have been unarmed.

Had you heard about this? I hadn’t, and neither, supposedly, had Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak. The missile was found by a woman riding her horse and reported by the media on April 27. Local residents are now canvassing the area in search of souvenirs.

Caught off guard, Błaszczak immediately blamed the Polish Army’s two most important generals, Operational Commander Lieutenant General Tomasz Piotrowski and Chief of Staff General Rajmund Andrzejczak, for failing to report the incident. Yet when asked by reporters about the case, Andrzejczak replied that he “informed his superiors ... at the time it took place,” adding that, “I have nothing to reproach myself with in this matter.”