Vladimir Putin reportedly tried to hatch a plan to invade Ukraine and divide the country with Poland, a top Polish official claims.
Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s parliamentary speaker, said the Russian president made the proposal during Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s visit to Moscow in 2008.
“He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine… This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow,” Sikirski told Politico in an interview.
Vladimir Putin claimed that Ukraine is an artificial country and suggested that Russia and Poland “sort it out together,” Sikorski added.
Sikorski said Poland had no interest in the plan at the time, but said it is clear that Putin’s desire to expand its territory has not gone away.
“I think psychologically the regime has been transformed by the annexation of Crimea,” Sikorski told Politico Magazine. “This was the moment that finally convinced all doubters and turned all heads. This was Napoleon after Austerlitz. This was Hitler after the fall of Paris. This was the moment that finally centralized everything into the hands of Vladimir Putin.”
There is also growing concern in the Baltic region that Russia could eventually invade some neighboring countries with ethnically Russian populations, as it did in Ukraine. This tension has been heightened by what is believed to be a Russian submarine’s deep incursion into the Stockholm archipelago. A number of Swedish vessels have responded to a sightings of a submarine just 31 miles from the capital of Stockholm.
Others in the region are worried that Russia and Vladimir Putin could extend the military campaign.
“Closely following events in the Swedish territorial waters, may become a game changer of the security in the whole Baltic Sea region,” Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.
The threats and military incursions are taking place against a backdrop of Russia’s increasing nuclear arsenal. Earlier this month Russia moved more than 100 nuclear warheads into northern waters, and sources say Vladimir Putin has been openly letting Western leaders know about his country’s arsenal of 5,000 nuclear weapons.