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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is just the beginning of a larger conflict in Europe, according to Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
The 45-year-old warlord, who is one of Putin’s key leaders on the ground in Ukraine, said on Monday “Ukraine is a done deal. What I’m interested in is Poland”.
Poland, which joined NATO in 1999, is seen as the alliance’s front line against Russian aggression in Europe, and officials there have been pushing for a permanent US and NATO border force to protect its eastern flank.
Any Russian push into Poland would immediately trigger a confrontation with NATO forces, and in all likelihood a global conflict.
Hardliner Kadyrov, who is a lieutenant-general in the Russia ’s national guard as well as being leader of Chechnya, is known to be one of the Russian leader’s closest allies, often referring to himself as “Putin’s Footsoldier”.
In the chilling video message recorded earlier this week he warned the Polish government that they risked invasion if they continued to channel arms and other supplies to Ukraine: “What is Poland trying to achieve?” He asked. “ Once Ukraine is done, we can show you what we’re capable of in six seconds if there is an order”.
Referring to the incident earlier this month when a protestor threw red paint at Sergey Andreev, Russia's ambassador to Poland, Kadyrov added: "You better take away your weapons and your mercenaries and officially apologise for our ambassador”.
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Polish authorities expressed regret over the attack, which took place on Russia’s so-called “Victory Day,” but Russian officials said a simple apology was not enough.
"We won't just ignore it," Kadyrov warned. "Bear that in mind."
Kadyrov has been accused of using “medieval torture” on his enemies in Chechnya and his shock troops in Ukraine are believed to have been responsible for numerous war crimes. He reportedly took his teenage son along with him when he joined the Russian force besieging Mariupol.
And Kadyrov himself has been referred to as “the son Putin never had” because of his fanatical devotion to the Russian leader.
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Kadyrov is one of the most vocal supporters of Putin's attack on Ukraine and claimed to have sent 1,000 of his men to join the fight – although that figure has not been independently verified.
Kadyrov is not the only one of Putin’s henchmen proposing an attack on Poland.
Oleg Morozov, a leading member of Putin's political party, United Russia, has said that Poland should be "in first place in the queue for denazification after Ukraine”.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told Al Jazeera that it is an "absolute certainty" that Russia wanted to invade Poland, although he added that it was unlikely that the attack would come soon because Putin “was too much occupied with what's happening in Ukraine”.
But Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko has warned that the attack on Poland could come sooner than many believe.
“This is how far they are pushing now. The Russians are really pushing on the borders and I think it’s going to be very little time before they start attacking Poland,” she told Sky News.
With recent Russian gains in Ukraine, Putin could well be ready to call his mission there accomplished, and start looking elsewhere to expand Russia’s borders.
- Russia Ukraine war
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