WARSAW — Two of Poland’s most senior generals — Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of the general staff, and Tomasz Piotrowski, operational commander of the armed forces — have resigned.
“Of course, if the generals yesterday decided to submit requests to terminate their duty, to shed their uniforms, such a decision will be accepted by the head of the armed forces,” said Jacek Siewiera, head of the National Security Bureau, the president’s advisory body.
Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak and Piotrowski clashed after a Russian missile flew into Polish airspace in December; it was only noticed after a hiker found the debris. The incident was a big embarrassment for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has made national security a key part of its campaign to win a third term in office in this Sunday’s general election.
Błaszczak blamed Piotrowski for the incident and demanded his resignation, which met with protests from Andrzejczak and was ultimately averted when President Andrzej Duda — the formal head of the armed forces — stepped in to mediate.
The Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported that Błaszczak sidelined Piotrowski and his Operational Command in the process of strengthening the defense of the Polish border with Belarus in the wake of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group’s relocation there.
The Operational Command also did not play a role in the military’s evacuation of Polish civilians from Israel in the past days, according to the newspaper.
PiS has also come under fire for using the military to boost its reelection chances, from holding campaign-style events with troops to publishing excerpts of a secret military plan drawn up under the previous government that showed Polish forces retreating to the center of the country in the event of a Russian attack.
That plan was only part of a more complex operational concept, but the ruling party used it to accuse the opposition of being prepared to hand over half the country to Russia.
The resignations were seized on by the opposition.
Donald Tusk, head of Civic Coalition, the leading opposition party, said he had obtained information about a further 10 military resignations.
“We need stability and security. I therefore ask all officers and generals of the Polish army to keep a cool head and maximum responsibility,” he said.
The official social media page of the Polish general staff denied there had been resignations of senior officers.
Szymon Hołownia, one of the leaders of the center-right Third Way grouping, called the situation in the military one of “chaos, resignations, mess, conflicts,” and added: “What we see today is also an obvious reaction to the behavior of Minister Blaszczak, to the attempt to politicize the military.”
Włodmierz Czarzasty, one of the leaders of the Left party, called for Błaszczak’s dismissal.
“How dare you deceive Poles and talk about the security of Poland?” he told reporters.
There was no immediate reaction from the defense ministry beyond confirming the resignations.