On Monday, anti-war protestors in Warsaw, Poland, threw red paint intended to look like blood at Sergey Andreev, the Russian ambassador to Poland.
Andreev was placing a wreath at a Warsaw cemetery for a remembrance ceremony that honored Russian soldiers killed in World War II during the Liberation of Poland.
The visit coincided with the Russian holiday called “Victory Day,” which celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 and the end of the war in Europe.
The celebration is held a day earlier in the US and is called V-E Day or Victory in Europe Day. Because of time zone differences, different countries recognize Germany’s surrender on different days.
The protestors chanted “Fascist!” and “Murderers!” before throwing the paint, which hit both Ambassador Andreev and others nearby.
The move was condemned by the governments of both countries, including Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who described the incident as “highly deplorable.”
“Diplomats enjoy special protection, regardless of the policies pursued by the governments that they represent,” he said.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took to the Telegram app to discuss the attack, in which she blamed “fans of neo-Nazism.”
“The fans of neo-Nazism have once again shown their true face, all covered in blood. The demolition of monuments to World War II heroes, the desecration of graves, and now, the disruption of a flower-laying ceremony on a day that is sacred for every decent person, confirm what is already clear: the West has set a course to revive Nazism,” Zakharova wrote.
Opposition to Nazism has long been cited by President Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian government as justification for their current military action in Ukraine.
Earlier in the day, President Putin again stated that eliminating “Nazi filth” in Ukraine was essential, drawing parallels between Russia’s fight against Nazi Germany in WWII and the present conflict in Ukraine.
The Polish government received criticism for not providing the ambassador and his party adequate security before the ceremony.
Former Polish Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz said he could not comprehend why there was not more protection for the ambassador when “you could feel how May 9 could end in Warsaw.”
However, Poland’s current interior minister noted that they advised Ambassador Andreev not to attend the ceremony because of security concerns.
“The gathering of opponents of Russian aggression against Ukraine, where the crime of genocide takes place every day, was legal,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski added. “The emotions of Ukrainian women taking part in the demonstration, whose husbands are fighting bravely in defense of their homeland, are understandable.”
They also noted that the ambassador was able to leave the event safely after being escorted by the Polish police.
Some expect the incident to continue increasing tensions between the two governments, as Poland has become a staging area for weapons and assistance headed to aid Ukraine.
Russia also cut off its gas pipeline to Poland last month after the latter’s government refused to pay for the natural gas in Rubles.