Poland’s Ministry of National Defence has announced that an unauthorized flying object entered into the country’s airspace from neighboring Belarus.
The object, which the ministry believed to be an observation balloon, flew over Warsaw for several hours before disappearing from Polish radars near the town of Rypin in central Poland.
The Polish military then scrambled a helicopter, drone, and ground troops to carry out a search by air and land in response to the intrusion.
According to Polish President Andrzej Duda, the unauthorized entry can be linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Belarus, which lies on Poland’s northeastern border, is a close ally of Moscow and believed to have taken part in the ongoing war by being Russia’s “launch pad.”
“Never has war been so close to us, never been so tangible,” Duda said. “It creates many different, difficult situations, many provocations, even those that we see even in the last hours.”
Since Russia launched its invasion, three incursions into Polish airspace have been reported.
In November, Poland put its military on high alert following a missile strike initially blamed on Moscow.
However, Duda later said Ukraine’s air defenses were probably responsible for the blast that killed two people.
Another object landed in Polish territory in December, but it was only discovered last month by a man riding a horse in a forest. Officials said the object “may be a Russian-made cruise missile.”
The reported incursions have raised alarms about Poland’s air defense capabilities.
Military and political officials have also been questioned regarding the handling of Poland’s defenses amid increased threats due to the Russian invasion.
Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak blamed the operational commander of the armed forces for not properly disseminating information about illegal incursions.
“Poland and the Polish army have not seen such events on our territory and over our territory for many decades,” Duda stressed.