According to Polish experts, the rhetoric of the Russian president is aimed at splitting the European Union and discrediting Poland.
During his press conference at the end of December 2019, the Russian president criticized the behavior of the Polish authorities before World War II and in the first months after it began..
Vladimir Putin promised to “write an article” on this topic, but for now he limited himself to recalling a historical episode that took place in 1938: “Poland itself took part in the partition of Czechoslovakia. I went into two districts – Teshinsky and another district there. And that’s all, and took them “.
Speaking about the occupation of the eastern lands of Poland by Soviet troops in September 1939, Putin made a reservation: “the troops entered, but they entered after the Polish government lost control over its armed forces and over what was happening on the territory of Poland, and itself was somewhere already in the area of the Polish-Romanian border. There was no one to even talk to about this topic with. ” And further: “the troops of the Red Army did not capture these territories of Poland. German troops entered there, then liberated, and Soviet troops entered “.
Later, during an expanded collegium of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin returned to the topic of World War II, and, reproaching the then Polish leadership in an attempt to negotiate with Hitler’s Germany, called the Polish Ambassador to Berlin Jozef Lipski a “bastard” and an “anti-Semitic pig” for he offered to send European Jews to Africa. By the way, the possibility of creating a Jewish state in eastern Africa (the so-called “Ugandan version”) was proposed by the British government back in 1903 and at the same time was approved by some leaders of the Zionist movement.
A detailed answer to the statements of Vladimir Putin was given by the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki. He recalled that his country was the first victim of the Second World War: “Our country was the first to experience the armed aggression of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Poland became the first country to defend free Europe “.
The head of the Polish government also noted that the Soviet-German agreement, signed at the end of August 1939 by the foreign ministers of the two states, in reality was not a “non-aggression pact”.
“It was a political and military alliance that divided Europe into two spheres of influence – along the line formed by the three Polish rivers: Narew, Vistula and San. A month later, the border was moved to the line of the Bug River as a result of the “German-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Border” of September 28, 1939. It became the prologue of unspeakable crimes committed over the following years on both sides of this border …
On September 22, 1939, a large military parade took place in Brest-Litovsk – the triumph of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, dedicated to their common victory over independent Poland. Such parades are organized by non-Aggression Pact signatories – they are hosted by allies and friends. Such were Hitler and Stalin, for a long time they were not only allies, but in fact friends, ”emphasizes Mateusz Morawiecki.
Finally, the newspaper Rzech Pospolita published a joint statement by the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Mikhail Shudrich, and the chairman of the Polish Union of Jewish Communities, Klara Kolodziejski-Poltyn. The statement says that in 1938 Poland and the Zionist movement together supported Jewish emigration. And also that the current FRG does not hide the facts about the war crimes of the Nazis during the Second World War. “We wish similar honesty to the Russian authorities, who started the war as Germany’s allies,” note Mikhail Shudrik and Klara Kolodzieyski-Poltyn.
Jacek Sariusz-Wolski, MEP from the Law and Justice party, called Putin’s statements about Poland’s role in unleashing World War II as part of a campaign to discredit his country in the international arena. “I regard the statements of the Russian president as an element of the geopolitical game with the aim of harming relations between the countries of Western and Central and Eastern Europe,” the MEP stressed..
“On this issue, Polish nationalists, leftists and liberals rallied together.”
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” asked Polish experts to comment on the attacks of the President of Russia and the response of the Polish side.
Deputy Director of the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Accord Lukasz Adamski (Lukasz Adamski) ironically remarked that there was already one “great linguist” in Russian history. “Obviously, Vladimir Putin is jealous of him and decided to become a great historian,” added Adamski..
According to the VOA interlocutor, the tone of Putin’s statement surpassed even the samples of Soviet propaganda. “At least in the 70s and 80s, the Soviet Union preferred not to mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, because they understood that this document should be ashamed of. Historians know that after the signing of the pact, Vyacheslav Molotov said: “It is senseless and criminal to wage a war for the destruction of Hitlerism,” and that Stalin congratulated Hitler and so on, ”Lukasz Adamski recalled.
The fact that the Russian president returned to the models of Soviet propaganda of 1939-1941, when Poland was accused of unleashing a war, angered not only Polish politicians, but also Polish society. “I was especially outraged by the fact that Vladimir Putin and Russian diplomacy once again justified the September 17, 1939 aggression. For example, Putin said that the Soviet army entered the territories where there was no longer a Polish state, and months earlier Sergei Naryshkin said the same thing, ”Adamski continued..
I was very outraged by Putin’s words about Polish after in Berlin. Moreover, the reason for these insults was one phrase of Józef Lipski, taken out of context. By the way, this statement, made on Christmas Eve according to the Gregorian calendar, was perceived as an intention to spoil the most important holiday for the Poles. Accordingly, the answer of Mateusz Morawiecki, which, according to Lukasz Adamski, “is written very well, but in a direct language unusual for diplomatic practice,” was received with great enthusiasm in Poland. “In this respect, Polish nationalists, the Polish left, and Polish liberals – that is, those who support the government and the opposition – have all rallied together,” says the deputy director of the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Accord.
Lukasz Adamski believes that the anti-Polish rhetoric of the Russian president is partly motivated by resentment that he was not invited to Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. “I wrote then that he should have been invited, but as a representative of a country that, together with the Third Reich, carried out aggression against Poland. And then it would be clear why Putin is not coming. But our authorities then decided that Poland’s partners, the EU countries and the Eastern Partnership, would participate in the events, and that this format does not imply the participation of leaders of other countries, including Putin, ”the Polish expert commented..
He also recalled that on January 27, Poland will host events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. “Putin won’t be there, he doesn’t want to come to Poland at all. But he will go to Israel, and I think there he will once again speak of Poland as the state responsible for the outbreak of World War II, a nationalist and anti-Semitic state, ”suggested Lukasz Adamski.
“Poland is a pretty convenient victim”
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Former director of the Polish Cultural Center in Moscow, historian Marek Radzivon recalled that in September 2009, at a ceremony timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, Vladimir Putin, who was then in the rank of Prime Minister of Russia, said that it was Poland that became the first victim of aggression. “Any cooperation with extremists, with the Nazis leads to tragedy. And this is not cooperation, but a conspiracy that leads to tragedy. All agreements from 1934 to 1939 were morally unacceptable, and from a practical point of view, senseless and dangerous, “Putin said then, noting that the State Duma of the Russian Federation condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact..
And in his last speeches dedicated to the events preceding the outbreak of the Second World War, the Russian president, according to Marek Radzivon, deliberately allowed the distortion of historical facts. In particular, this applies to the interpretation of the words of Józef Lipski, which “in no case can be considered a serious political proposal”, and to the whole assessment of the “Munich agreement”. “In Putin’s concept, what happened in 1938 in Munich is much more important than the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which, in this interpretation,“ goes into the shadows ”. And such a concept is, of course, false, “says the Polish historian..
According to Radzivon, since the end of December, both the Polish public and the country’s press have been asking why Vladimir Putin made such harsh and unfounded criticism of Poland. In addition to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz mentioned by Lukasz Adamski, the second approaching anniversary – the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe – is also named among the reasons..
It became known that Polish President Andrzej Duda refused to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the events at the Yad Vashem memorial complex, since Vladimir Putin will be present there. In turn, the Russian president, according to the interlocutor of the Voice of America, will most likely emphasize that the events on the territory of the former Auschwitz are extremely marginal..
As for the second date, Marek Radzivon recalls, in May 2015, with rare exceptions, none of the European leaders arrived in Moscow. Since then, to appear on the podium next to Putin, in fact, would mean to show “understanding” of the Russian annexation of Crimea and Russia’s armed intervention in southeastern Ukraine. “That is, from a propaganda point of view, it was a complete defeat for the Kremlin. And now Putin intends to celebrate another anniversary in Moscow in the most serious way. And it is very important for him to demonstrate that one of the EU members is not part of the international community celebrating the victory over Nazism, ”Marek Radziwon notes..
The Polish expert believes that the Russian leadership, and Vladimir Putin in particular, never perceived the European Union as a whole and did not consider Brussels the capital of a united Europe. “Any negotiations between Russia and the West are negotiations between the Kremlin and individual capitals. This applies to both global political and private economic issues. And in this sense, Poland is a pretty convenient victim. Firstly, because it is not as significant a power as the countries of “old Europe” – Germany, Great Britain or France. And secondly, no matter how unfortunate it is, Poland’s status in the European Union is much weaker now than it was five years ago. Therefore, rude statements about Poland are calculated on the fact that no one in the European Union will intercede for us. And this, unfortunately, is confirmed. There is a response from the Polish Prime Minister to Putin, there are statements by Polish politicians and officials. But it’s all nationally.
And the statements of foreign politicians, including those from the United States, are most often heard at the level of ambassadors in Poland. But this is not the level that should have been expected, ”sums up Marek Radzivon.