Protesters surrounded and blocked Russia’s ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, as he arrived to lay flowers at a cemetery in Warsaw on Victory Day, in just the latest sign that tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine are spilling over to Poland.
The pro-Ukraine protesters asked that Andreev take off his St. George’s pin, a symbol of Russian aggression, according to RIA Novosti. Protesters shouted “Ruscists” at his detail, using a word meant to serve as a blend of Russians and fascists, according to The Washington Post.
Euromaidan-Warszaw, a pro-Ukraine group, unveiled an art installation at the scene, complete with flags blocking the ambassador’s path, mockups of buildings that Russia has damaged in attacks against Ukraine, and crosses for Ukrainians Russia has killed during the invasion. In order to reach the memorial, he would have to trample the flags and symbolically walk over dead Ukrainians, protesters said.
Footage from the scene shared across social media shows the ambassador encircled by a crowd outside of the cemetery, with protesters chanting in the background of the tense stand-off.
Eventually, he left without placing flowers at the mausoleum, instead placing them near the memorial, calling the scene an outrage.
Protesters doused Andreev with red liquid at the same site last year.
Relations between Poland and Russia have grown tense in recent months as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its second year, while Poland continues to provide military aid for Ukraine and welcome Ukrainian refugees.
The last several weeks have proven turbulent. Polish authorities took over a school building used for Russian diplomats’ children in Poland in recent days. Ambassador Andreev threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Poland over the incident. After a former Kremlin official hinted at assassinating Poland’s ambassador to Russia over the seizure, Poland’s Foreign Ministry summoned Andreev in protest.
Just this week, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) placed its air policing units on high alert after a Russian military jet conducted unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers near a Polish plane over the Black Sea on Friday, nearly causing a collision.