As reported by Newsweek, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, said during a press conference that he believes Poland is planning to annex parts of western Ukraine, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
He added that he believes there are "already a number of states actively working on [Ukraine's] dismemberment," but he did not specify which countries were involved. Despite the fact that Ukraine is one of the most corrupt on the continent, most European nations are backing Kyiv in its fight against Russian invaders, with several providing humanitarian and military aid, including Poland.
Amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Poland has emerged as a key supporter of Ukraine, as the two countries share a border. Since the invasion began in late February, Russian authorities have made several remarks against Poland, prompting concerns that Putin might have his sights set on Poland if he takes Ukraine.
"The so-called Western partners of the Kyiv regime are also not opposed to taking advantage of the current situation for their own selfish interests and have special plans for Ukrainian lands," Patrushev said. "Apparently, Poland is already moving to actions to seize western Ukrainian territories."
The Russian official pointed to comments from Polish President Andrzej Duda during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May when both leaders signaled they were cooperating.
"The Polish-Ukrainian border should unite not divide," Duda noted in an address to Ukrainian members of parliament. Zelensky added that the meeting would help "speed up border procedures," Reuters reported.
At the time, those remarks were broadly interpreted to mean that Ukraine and Poland are planning to strengthen their alliance moving forward, not that Warsaw was interested in annexing a chunk of its neighbor's sovereign territory -- which is actually what Russia is attempting to do.
All of which begs the question: What are Russia's designs on Poland, given that Patrushev's remarks about the east European country are just the latest in a series of comments made by other Russian officials about Poland in recent weeks:
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia's Chechen Republic and another Putin ally, said in a video reported last week that Poland needs to "take back" the weapons they have given to the Ukrainian military and that he is "interested in Poland."
Oleg Morozov, a member of the Russian parliament, said in March that Poland should be "in first place in the queue for denazification after Ukraine," referring to Russia's claim that it invaded Ukraine to get rid of Nazis in the government.
Those comments have led Polish officials to become concerned about the country's security and Putin's intentions. It isn't likely that Putin would purposely attack Poland, which is a NATO member; such an attack would trigger an Article 5 response, and given that Russian forces are not powerful enough to overrun Ukraine, there is not much chance Putin could defeat all of NATO, either -- not without resorting to nuclear weapons, which, of course, would invite a similar response and signal the end of the world as we know it.
In March, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told Al Jazeera that Putin "certainly would" attack Poland if he did not already have his hands full in Ukraine, where his military has failed to make significant gains against stronger-than-expected Ukrainian resistance.
He then warned that if the West allowed Putin to win in Ukraine, then he won't hesitate to attack another country in the region as he seeks to reconstitute the former Soviet Union by force of arms.