Last month, Poland secretly invaded the Czech Republic – so secretly, in fact, that they didn’t even realise it themselves.
Polish troops were guarding the frontier as part of coronavirus measures on May 28 to stop people entering the country, and got confused about the border.
They technically occupied territory in the neighbouring Czech Republic for a number of days before the mistake was corrected.
The Polish Defence Ministry has admitted to briefly invading the Czech Republic in what they assured was a “misunderstanding”.
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Polish troops were guarding their border at northeastern Moravia, part of which extends into the Czech Republic.
They crossed a stream which marked where Poland ended and the Czech Republic began.
For unknown reasons, these soldiers then took up positions in a chapel 30 metres into Czech territory.
They apparently stayed there for several days.
A Czech construction engineer overseeing repairs at the chapel had wanted to take photographs of the plaster. But he was turned away on May 28 by Polish soldiers carrying machine guns, who had set up a roadblock on the path leading to the chapel.
It is unclear how long the Polish “occupation” lasted, as they could have been there for days or even weeks before the engineer found them.
The engineer then notified the area’s local newspaper called Denik. They sent a photographer to the site. The Denik photographer confirmed the man’s account.
The soldiers were still there at the weekend, reported Denik, when the Czech equivalent of ‘Friends of the Earth’ was due to hold a small scheduled meeting in Pelhrimovy, a local village.
The movement’s local co-ordinator, Ivo Dokoupil, attempted to explain to the Poles that his group planned a brief visit to the chapel to take photographs. He was denied access.
“A soldier dressed in the uniform of a foreign state and carrying a sub-machine gun started giving me orders. It was a terrifying experience,” Mr Dokoupil told the paper.
“They wouldn’t let me get closer than 10 metres.”
At this point, the local Czech police force contacted the Polish government and its troops were soon ordered to leave.
“The placement of the border post was a result of misunderstanding, not a deliberate act. It was corrected immediately and the case was resolved – also by the Czech side,” the Polish Ministry of Defence told CNN.
Although Poland has described the incident as a mistake, the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it has yet to receive an official explanation.