Poland activates fighter planes to protect airspace amid Russian attacks on Ukraine

(CNN) — Poland sent fighter planes to protect its airspace on Tuesday as Russia stepped up missile bombardments of Ukraine. According to the Polish military, a Russian missile briefly crossed Polish territory last week.

Poland, a NATO member that shares a border with Ukraine, said it activated two pairs of F-16 fighter jets and an allied tanker on Tuesday morning after Russia launched the latest deadly missile attack on Ukraine. Directed against the capital, Kiev and. Eastern area of ​​Kharkiv.

“We would like to inform you that intensive long-range aviation activity of the Russian Federation is observed, which is related to attacks on the territory of Ukraine,” Poland’s operational command wrote in X. Fighter jets were deployed to a base in Lask and Krzczyński “to ensure the security of Polish airspace”.

The decision comes days after the Polish military said it believed a Russian missile entered Polish airspace and then left. Russia stepped up its attacks on Ukraine over the New Year and on Friday launched its biggest missile strike since the beginning of the massive invasion nearly two years ago.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski called Russia’s charge d’affaires, Andrei Ordash, and handed him a note requesting an explanation. But Russia said it “will not offer clarification” until concrete evidence is presented, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

Ordash told RIA Novosti that the note contained “only unfounded allegations,” adding that Poland “refused to provide evidence that the missile was of Russian origin.”

After the Kremlin promised that Ukraine’s attack on the Russian city of Belgorod “will not go unpunished” Russia launched another intense missile and drone attack on Ukraine overnight Tuesday, hitting residential buildings and civilian infrastructure across the country. Went.

Russian officials said at least 25 people were killed and 108 others were injured in the Ukrainian attack on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it would avenge the “crime” and its forces have been bombarding Ukraine with missiles every day since then.

At least five people were killed and 112 injured in the attacks Tuesday morning, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukraine’s top commander, General Valery Zaluzny, said the Air Force had shot down “10 out of 10” Kinzhal hypersonic missiles using the US-made Patriot air defense system. “This is a record,” Zaluzny wrote in X.

CNN cannot independently confirm Ukraine’s numbers, but according to US officials, Patriot batteries have managed to destroy Kinzhal missiles.

“If the missiles hit their targets, the consequences would be devastating,” Zaluzny said. Kinjal missiles travel at about 10 times the speed of sound, carry about 500 kg of warhead and have a strike range of about 2,000 kilometres, meaning they can be fired far away from the battlefield .

Although Ukraine claimed to have shot down the Kinzhal missiles fired in Tuesday’s attack, Zaluzny said: “There is no reason to believe that the enemy will stop here. Therefore, we need more systems and ammunition for them.” Is.”

Without providing evidence, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had attacked Ukraine’s “military-industrial complex” and that “the objective of the attack was achieved.”

In a video speech posted on Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attacks and promised that “Russia will be held accountable” for each loss of life.

“Our air defense troops have been doing an incredible job for three days. Since December 31, the inhumane Russians have already used about 170 ‘martyrs’ (drones) and dozens of missiles of various types. Most of them were hit by civilians. The target was directed against,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

Belgorod was again the target of Ukrainian attacks on Tuesday, according to regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. Russia’s Defense Ministry said 17 missiles were shot down in the area and three separate attacks were reported at noon local time.

“The city is burning”

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klimenko said Tuesday that Russia’s overnight attacks sparked seven fires in six districts of Kiev. More than 130 people were evacuated from a high-rise building in the Solomensky District, where 20 people were rescued. Overall, at least 20 people were injured in the capital.

Two people died in a fire in a residential building in the Fastiv district in the Kiev region. At least seven people were injured and five apartment buildings and 40 cars were damaged in the town of Vishneve.

Peter Zalmayev, director of the Eurasian Democracy Initiative, said he woke up in Kiev on Tuesday morning to find that “the whole city was on fire.”

“My building was shaking from the shock waves of one of the hypersonic missiles fired into our sky,” Zalmayev told CNN. “I was afraid my building would collapse.”

He said some energy infrastructure also appeared to have been damaged, which he said was reminiscent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt last year to sabotage Ukraine’s power grid and weaponize winter weather.

“The beginning of 2024 could be the beginning of a new campaign to try to destroy our electrical installations and our water supplies,” Zalmayev said.

border tension

Poland’s border with Ukraine extends for more than 500 kilometers (300 mi) and has been the focus of many fears since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale invasion, as its war against Ukraine threatens to spill over into neighboring European countries. There is danger.

In November 2022, a Russian-made missile fell outside the rural Polish town of Przewowo, about 6.4 kilometers west of the Ukrainian border. Two Polish civilians were killed in the blast, marking the first time a NATO member was hit by a direct hit during the conflict.

Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have used Russian-made weapons during the conflict, with Ukraine deploying Russian-made S-300 missiles as part of its air defense system before acquiring the superior American-made Patriot system.

Despite initial fears that Russia might attack Poland in 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the time that “there are no indications that this was a deliberate attack against Poland.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg agreed with this assessment.

Instead, Duda said there was a “high probability” that it was an air defense missile from the Ukrainian side that had “crashed” while intercepting incoming Russian missiles in Poland. He confirmed that the rocket was probably a Russian-made S-300.

During Friday’s airstrike – the largest against Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion – the Polish military reported that an “unidentified aerial object” entered Polish airspace from Ukrainian territory.

Poland’s top military official, General Wisław Kukula, said “all indications” suggested the object was a Russian missile. Stoltenberg said Friday that NATO “remains vigilant” after the incident.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

(TagstoTranslate)Russian War in Ukraine(T)Poland

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