Warsaw, Poland — The Polish Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday that it had discovered an object flown in from Belarus in Polish airspace, which was 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.
A search was launched near Rypin using a helicopter, a drone and ground groups of the Territorial Defense Forces, a spokeswoman for the Armed Forces Task Force Captain Ewa Złotnicka told TVN24.
The object was sighted around 20:30 local time on Friday near Białowieża, which is close to Poland’s border with Belarus. Radar surveillance was carried out, but around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday the object was no longer visible, Złotnicka said in a telephone interview with the private TV station.
The development reported on Saturday follows two other known incursions into Polish airspace since Russia began its full-scale invasion Ukrainelocated on the eastern border of Poland.
In November, two Polish men were killed when a rocket landed in eastern Poland. Western officials said they believed a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile had gone astray as Ukrainian air forces attempted to repel a full-scale attack by Russia.
Polish military and political officials are also being faced with questions about another object that landed on Polish territory in December but was only accidentally spotted in April by a citizen riding a horse in a forest.
The issue raises questions about the authorities’ handling of air defenses in the face of new risks posed by the war in Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were only informed about the air raid in December at the end of 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 briefed on April 26 about the object the bureau said was a security guard “Possibly a Russian-made cruise missile.”
Officials said no traces of explosives were found at the spot where the flying object was spotted.
Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak pointed out this week that the armed forces operational commander is responsible for not properly informing political leaders about the object. Army leaders have contested this claim, insisting that they had properly performed their duties.
The political opposition in this matter has demanded Błaszczak’s dismissal.