Two top Polish army generals resigned days ahead of a tight election contest after a scandal involving an errant Russian missile triggered a rupture between the nation’s military brass and the ruling party.
(Bloomberg) — Two top Polish army generals resigned days ahead of a tight election contest after a scandal involving an errant Russian missile triggered a rupture between the nation’s military brass and the ruling party.
The decision by General Staff Chief Rajmund Andrzejczak and the head of Poland’s operational command, Tomasz Piotrowski, deals a potential blow to the nationalist Law & Justice party ahead of the Oct. 15 election. The government has cast itself as a guarantor of national security with a plan for military spending increases in response to the war in neighboring Ukraine.
The rift began earlier this year when Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak blamed senior officers for failing to clarify the circumstances of a missile that landed in a Polish forest some 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the Ukrainian border last December.
The incident raised issues about Poland’s security during Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. The projectile, which didn’t contain explosives, was discovered by a civilian near Bydgoszcz, northwest of Warsaw, in late April, prompting accusations of how it was made public only five months after falling on Polish soil.
President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday appointed Wieslaw Kukula and Maciej Klisz as successors to outgoing commanders.
The moves were reported earlier by Rzeczpospolita newspaper, which said that the generals, two of the three highest commanders in the army, felt left out of the minister’s decision-making process — including this week’s evacuation of Polish citizens from Israel.
Poland’s main opposition party leader Donald Tusk said on Tuesday the resignations jeopardize national security. His Civic Platform party is seeking to deny the Law & Justice its third term in power, but has faced government’s criticism of being soft on defense.
“So many soldiers, officers and generals are fed up with the relations between the rules of one party and the army,” Tusk told reporters.
(Upates with presidential appointments in fifth paragraph.)
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