Warsaw takes over land built by Russia to hand over to Ukraine

WARSAW (AP) – A disputed compound in Poland’s capital Warsaw, managed by the Russian diplomatic mission, will be taken over by the city and made available to the Ukrainian community, the mayor said on Monday.

Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski was on site early Monday and said a bailiff entered the two apparently empty fenced-off buildings, dubbed “Spyville” by Warsaw residents, to check their condition and mark them as seized by the city .

Trzaskowski said Warsaw would get back the land “illegally” occupied by Russia. Last month he said Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine made the decades-long process even more urgent.

“It is very symbolic that we are now completing this longstanding process at the time of Russian aggression,” Trzaskowski said on Twitter.

Ambassador of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia told Polish state-run news agency PAP that Ukraine will submit an application to lease the land, which could be used for a school or a Ukrainian cultural center.

One of Trzaskowski’s suggestions for the approximately 100 apartments there is to accommodate war refugees from Ukraine. More than 2.6 million of them have come to Poland since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Photos from inside the buildings were published later on Monday by news portal Onet.pl. They showed peeling paint, broken glass on the floor, and floors torn out.

The Russian embassy, ​​which built the high-rise apartment blocks in the 1970s on land purchased by the city, is refusing to pay court orders to lease or hand over the land.

Once heavily trafficked, the buildings sat vacant in the 1990s after Poland shed its communist rule and Soviet Union dominance in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

Since then, Poland has claimed that the lease for the land has expired and is demanding its return. But its gates remained closed and guarded.

Russia’s diplomatic and business missions have far more property in Poland than Poles in Russia, which violates reciprocity rules, according to Poland’s foreign ministry.


Follow AP stories on developments in the Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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