NATO's response to these events has also been very disappointing

The Białowieża raid and the worrying holes in the NATO air defenses

The raid of two Belarusian military helicopters into Poland this Tuesday, August 1, is a very serious event and also very revealing.

Serious provocation against Poland: military aircraft of Belarus cross the Polish border
Military of Belarus, backed by Russia, monitor migration attack on Poland

One of the Belarusian helicopters was armed

As we already saw this morning, and as more photos taken by residents of the Białowieża Forest area are being revealed, one of the Belarusian helicopters, a Mil Mi-24P, was armed with two rocket launcher pods, as well as of its two 30mm GSh-30K cannons on the starboard side of the aircraft. The raid was initially denied by the Polish Army, which was eventually confirmed by numerous neighbors in the area who even called the Police in alarm when they saw two military helicopters with red stars flying over Polish territory.

The Mil Mi-8MTV-5 transport helicopter of the Belarusian Air Force photographed yesterday over Poland, in the Białowieża Forest area (Photo: Eliza Kowalczyk).

The challenge of detecting low-flying aircraft over a forest in Poland, in the Białowieża Forest area (Photo:

The Polish Ministry of Defense finally recognized the raid on a statement published 10 hours after the incident, noting that Belarus "had previously informed the Polish side about a training". The same statement stated: "The border crossing took place in the Białowieża area at a very low altitude, making it difficult for radar systems to detect it."

The Belarusian Mil Mi-24P attack helicopter that entered Poland yesterday. This helicopter was armed with a rocket launcher and two 30 mm cannons (Photo: Eliza Kowalczyk).

It is disconcerting that there was knowledge of Belarusian exercises near the border, in a wooded area, and that no radars were deployed to allow the detection of aircraft at low altitudes. A retired Polish Navy serviceman, Lieutenant Commander Maksymilian Dura, stated today in "It is true that due to the existence of the radar horizon, ground-based radars detect objects in the air at a height of 100 meters and at a distance of not more than 55 km, and at a height of 25 m, at a distance of about 35 kilometers."

The ZDPSR Soła mobile short-range radar, used by the Polish Army (Photo:

The means of the Polish Army to detect this type of incursions

Captain Dura points out that the Polish Defense Ministry, learning of the existence of these Belarusian exercises along the border, "had time to install such a number of radars in the border area during this period, not only to secure Polish territory, but also to observe what is happening at low altitude in Belarusian airspace." But he did not. Dura points out that the Polish Army has two types of mobile radars that it could have deployed in the area: the short-range ZDPSR Soła and the medium-range TRS-15 Odra.

The TRS-15 Odra mobile medium-range radar operated by the Polish Army (Photo: Michał Derela).

In the aforementioned article, Captain Dura points out that "knowing the area of the exercise, it would be enough to install two radar stations of this type to protect the Polish sky from the direction of the Belarusian exercise. Without However, this was not done, despite the row over the rocket, which crossed the Belarusian border and landed near Bydgoszcz in December 2022. Theoretically, the same case could have taken place during the current Belarusian exercises, but it was not confirmed. they have taken safeguards against it."

Dura also criticizes the fact that "procedures on what to do in such cases have also not been developed", noting that the Polish Army has effective measures to respond to such incidents, "but you must prepare beforehand to use them". The retired captain believes that "a clear message should have been sent to Belarus that any aircraft illegally crossing the Polish border will be shot down. And then there would have been no ill-fated flight."

An incursion whose purpose may have been to learn about NATO defenses

The Białowieża raid may have served Belarus and Russia to learn the state of NATO air defenses. And given the result, with two helicopters entering three kilometers into Polish territory and returning to Belarus undetected, we should feel alarmed, because NATO airspace shows worrying holes, which should be evaluated at in order to prevent something like this from happening again, in Poland and in other countries.

The disappointing Alliance response to this raid

The response that the Atlantic Alliance gave yesterday is not satisfactory either: NATO has not issued even the slightest statement about what happened, as if the thing were not with it, despite having been notified yesterday by Poland about that incident. It is common for politicians to take vacations in August, but in the current situation in Europe, with a war at the gates of the Alliance, NATO's political response mechanisms should be more agile, especially all taking into account the key importance of the time factor in any military offensive.

Thus, and after reviewing these facts, the Białowieża incursion not only allows Belarus and Russia to know the state of the allied air defenses, but also the response of the Alliance itself to an event like this. We are no longer talking about a case of hybrid warfare such as the migratory attacks organized by Belarus against Lithuania and Poland, but rather a conventional incursion by military aircraft. An incursion that could have served to infiltrate hostile forces, for example Wagner's Russian mercenaries, into allied territory. This is a very serious event and NATO's response should be commensurate with that gravity.


Photo: Visegrád24. The Belarusian Mil Mi-24 that entered Poland 3 kilometers yesterday along with a Mil Mi-8 of the same nationality.

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