WARSAW, Poland — Poland and Latvia have summoned the Russian ambassadors to protest threats by nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who last week said Poland and the Baltic states would be "wiped out" in the event of a war between Russia and the West.
Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party and a deputy speaker of the Parliament's lower house, told Russian TV station Rossiya 24 on Friday that questions of war and peace and "in particular those relating to Ukraine will be solved by one person," referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Such words raise fears in Poland and the Baltic states, which have bitter memories of being occupied by Russia.
"The Baltic States and Poland are doomed. They will be wiped out. Nothing will remain there," Zhirinovsky said.
Latvia strongly condemned the threats.
"Statements of this kind are a strong testimony to the wish of Russia's ruling elite to restore the Russian empire," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Wednesday. "This also demonstrates that the sanctions applied by the EU and other states against Russia in response to the latter's actions in Ukraine are appropriate and fully justified."
The Foreign Ministry in Riga summoned Russia Ambassador Alexander Veshnyakov "to hear Latvia's position regarding the issue," the ministry said, but gave no further details.
A day earlier Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski summoned the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, saying Poland had to react because Zhirinovsky is not a private citizen or even an ordinary lawmaker.
However, Valeria Perzhinskaya, a Russian Embassy spokeswoman in Warsaw, said the ambassador didn't feel he should have to explain the comments of Zhirinovsky, who does not speak for the Russian government.
Zhirinovsky has a history of making outrageous comments, mainly to cater to his nationalistic supporters. His party votes as the Kremlin wishes, but his statements don't represent the government's view.