WARSAW Poland on Wednesday put forward its foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin, for the job of the European Union's top diplomat.
The role, officially called the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is held at the moment by Britain's Catherine Ashton, but the make-up of the Commission will change after the weekend's European Parliament election.
"I will say it openly: Poland has gained such significant influence in foreign policy, that the so-called high representative would be within the scope of our interests," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters. "Radoslaw Sikorski would be a natural candidate."
Sikorski, 51, has been foreign minister since 2007, and for two years before that was defense minister.
He has been fiercely critical of the Kremlin's military interventions in Georgia and Ukraine, and is a proponent of Europe adopting muscular policies to protect it and its neighborhood from Russian expansion.
As a student in Poland before the Berlin Wall came down, he led a strike against the Communist authorities, an activity that at the time often led to arrest.
He was granted political asylum in Britain, studied at Oxford University, and later worked as a journalist. His reporting assignments included Afghanistan and Angola.
He is married to the American author Anne Applebaum, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for her book "Gulag," a history of the Soviet camps where political prisoners were held.
(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams)