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Russian Ambassador should reckon with MFA’s caution: PM on red paint incident

“The Russian crimes in Ukraine are such a terrifying experience for a plethora of people that the Russian ambassador’s appearance at the Soviet Military Cemetery comes across as a provocation,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki commented on Monday’s incident involving Russia’s ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreev being doused with red paint by protesters. “The Ambassador should have reckoned with the [Polish] MFA’s caution pertinent to the matter.”

On Monday, the Russian ambassador made his way, together with a delegation, to the Soviet Military Cemetery located in central Warsaw to observe Victory Day — an event celebrated in Russia every year on May 9 to commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in WWII.

The delegation encountered demonstrators at the site carrying Ukrainian and Polish flags. The Russian diplomats headed by the ambassador were prevented from reaching the memorial. The protesters shouted anti-Russian slogans and doused the ambassador with red paint resembling the blood spilt by Russian troops in Ukraine. Shortly after the incident, the ambassador retreated to his car.

During a press conference on Tuesday at the PM’s Office in Warsaw, the PM was asked about the ramifications of the incident for Poland and whether the government had any plans pertaining to Andreev, for instance, expelling him from Poland.

“The MFA sent a special note to the ambassador of the Russian Federation, suggesting that he should not participate in the May 9 commemorations in the way that he had envisioned due to the provocative nature,” the PM said.

“Russians are notorious for coming up with provocations, provoking in a variety of ways in different corners of the globe in the same way that we [Poland] too have experienced,” the PM said.

“We are making an effort to be the first to significantly limit all kinds of diplomatic relations [with Russia],” PM Morawiecki said, adding that “Poland… was one of the first countries to have expelled several dozen [Russian] diplomats and non-diplomats from the Russian embassy. It was only after that other EU states began to limit the extent of their diplomatic contacts [with Russia].”

It is worth recalling that Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Monday that the incident involving Andreev “was, by all means, regrettable.”

“Diplomats have special protection, regardless of the policies of the governments they represent,” he said.

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