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Poland sees a threat

Mark Mardell | 11:41 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

This is the second of three pieces I'm writing in the run-up to this week's EU-Russia summit, as I explain here.

Soviet-era fighter

The snub-nosed Russian-built fighter jet squats in the Polish woods, only partly obscured by the trees. It is not the spearhead of an invasion force but a military souvenir of a time when Poland was a key Soviet ally within the Warsaw pact.

Now Poland is in Nato and the European Union, and there is growing friction between the old allies. The Mig sits near the front gates of an airbase which is at the centre of a row between Russia and Poland. The US plan for a missile defence shield, or Son of Star Wars, has upset the Russians.

The US is adamant that the shield, a sophisticated link-up of radar and missile systems, is intended to catch missiles in mid-air if launched from places like Iran. But the plan is for the radar to go to the Czech Republic, and the missiles themselves, almost certainly, to this base in Redzikowo.

Light-aircraft club

The mayor of nearby Slubsk is disappointed that the base may be put to this use, rather than turned into a civilian airport and business centre. He’s less worried about the Russian attitude.

Keep Out signAs we stand in front of gates of the base, emblazoned with a lightning-strike symbol, he tells me: "For many years we were in Russia or the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, and they haven’t had long to get used to the change. They think the weapons could easily be fitted with nuclear warheads. Opponents here say the same. I think the concern is ungrounded. I hope it is. I want the Americans and Russians to reach an agreement. For us Poles it is important to have good relations with our neighbours, the Russians."

He then takes me to the site where he says the missiles would actually be stored. It’s part of the old airbase, now a pocket handkerchief airstrip rented out to a civilian club of light aircraft enthusiasts.

But the signs of its old purpose are clear. There are five massive hangars at the edge of the field, the size of mansions, their concrete bulk and massive metal doors camouflaged with zigzag slashes of black and olive drab paint.

Trees and bushes are planted along the top to disguise the site from the air. It may seem remarkable that we are allowed to film both here, and the outside of the functioning military base. But the decision to allow the media to photograph Polish bases was taken by a former defence minister, Radek Sikorski, who pointed out that spy satellites can see far more than a TV camera.

Neo-cons

He is also the man who negotiated the outline of missile defence package with the Americans. He’s said to be close to Donald Rumsfeld and the neo-cons and is an enthusiast for the plan. Now an independent senator, Mr Sikorski defends the system that the Russians dislike so much.

Airstrip"Russia has threatened to target European cities. That makes us feel very uncomfortable, and if anything, it increases our sympathy for the United States. Nato membership was quite controversial in Poland until Russia started to protest loudly, so if they are worried about this project, to threaten is not the way to go about it," he says.

"Russia has testy relations with most of its neighbours – there are economic boycotts against Georgia, against Ukraine, against Estonia, against Poland. We would like to have good relations with Russia – this is a very powerful and rich neighbour of ours. I think I don’t have to explain to the British people, when there are KGB-style poisonings in the streets of London, that we feel even more exposed to this kind of behaviour.

"So we value Nato, perhaps more than countries that don’t share a border with Russia. That’s why we treat the Polish-American relationship so seriously and that’s why we seriously consider American requests."

Buoyant Russia

Poland is seen by many in the EU as an awkward customer.

Their complaints about Russia, like their worries about Germany, are dismissed by some many as a paranoid hang-over from the past. But perhaps now some are taking notice of their experience.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the European Union tended to have had a rather cosy relationship with a weak Russia, still experimenting with capitalism and democracy. Now the situation has altered, and so have some of the personnel. Germany’s former leader, Gerhard Schroeder, used to urge a kid-glove approach to Russia from the centre of the European Union, but not any more - now he's on the board of Gazprom and Angela Merkel is in charge in Berlin. The difference between Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t quite as stark, but it’s there.

Putin’s Russia is apparently more self-confident, unconcerned about causing offence, buoyed up by its gas and oil revenues. And perhaps critically, the European Union now has many members which have very direct experience of their big nextdoor neighbour.

The Czech Republic and Hungary saw their tentative movements to freedom crushed by Soviet troops. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were swallowed up by the Russian empire. Some might say it’s not fair to equate the Soviet Union with Russia but few in the region would bother making the distinction. Particularly in Poland, which ceased to exist as a country for more than 100 years because of Russian (and Prussian) expansion, long before Lenin.

Symbol of domination

If some are cowed by Russian might, it’s not an attitude you come across much in Poland

At a busy Warsaw intersection by a major tram stop stands a war memorial, known as the four sleepers. Bronze statues, some four or five times larger than life, stand silent guard.

Warsaw memorialAt the top of the monument, the figures are more dynamic, like immense versions of dramatically posed toy soldiers. One figure rushes forward holding a machine gun at waist height, another is charging with a levelled rifle and between them both the third solider holds his arm outstretched behind him, about to hurl a distinctive barrel shaped soviet grenade. As war memorials go, it’s both far more heroic and more impressive than the more sombre monuments in French or English villages.

But the problem is with the inscription, in both Polish and Russian. It reads: "Glory to the Soviet soldiers who gave their lives for Poland’s liberty and independence."

The Warsaw councillor Marek Makuch is campaigning to have it removed, even though a similar relocation of a memorial caused riots in Estonia early this year, and a bitter reaction from the Russian authorities.

As he looks at the monument, he tells me: "We are thinking about moving this monument here to the cemetery of Russian soldiers, because it’s a symbol of the domination of Soviets during and after World War II."

He’s dismissive of any Russian reaction. "They are living in some different world and they still think that Eastern Europe is some part of their dominion," he says.

Energy worries

Poland’s difficulties with Russia are fuelled by history but exacerbated the present. It may be ludicrous for politicians to describe plans from a pipeline to run from Russia to Berlin as a new version of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, which secretly carved up half of Europe, but it’s probably true that Poland is being deliberately left out in the cold.

There have been problems with meat transiting through Poland in the past and now the Russians have banned a whole range of Polish products from frozen vegetables to something called fish flour.

Kryzsztof Bobinski of the Poland and the Union foundation, who used to work for the Economist, is a long-term observer of the Polish scene. He says: "Poland sees Russia as a resurgent threat, with Mr Putin at the head of the Russian state, and the Polish people are quite worried. It’s very interesting that some opinion polls were done in 1989, and then in 2006, and it showed that then Poles were not worried about Russia at all because it was not doing very well, and very worried about Germany because it had been reunited."

He goes on: "I don’t think Russia is a country that has come to terms with the fact that its frontiers have been pushed back, making it smaller than it was under the Tsars. Of course, the passing of the Soviet Union is of some regret for Mr Putin, and he has actually done various things in the past few years that would make even the most pro-Russian western European states think twice about what is really going on in Moscow.

"The business with energy supplies, the lack of security of energy supplies, the increasingly authoritarian state in Russia – it seems to be a historic continuum, which means we have to be very careful with Russia."

There are a growing number of countries that sound increasingly like Poland and their voices will be heard at the EU summit. But will they be listened to?

Solidarity

A senior politician from one EU country told me recently that it was a mistake not to see Russia as a European country, and implied that any approach must be based on sympathetic forbearance, not lecturing or demanding.

The veteran leader of the Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, would not agree.

Mark Mardell and Lech WalesaHe told me: “As Europe, as the European Union, we have to show more solidarity with each other. We all have a common interest and it’s only one interest – while Russia will want to win over individual countries. We cannot allow that.

"And tomorrow we will have similar problems with China. And they will also be trying to use individual countries and to dismantle our solidarity. And that’s why, in the name of peace and development, we have to show solidarity, not as states, but as a European continent.”

We will see on Friday. Tomorrrow you can read my report from Lithuania, and Russia's ambassador to the EU will have his say.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:55 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Poc wrote:

If they want to remove a memorial for thousands of soldiers who died fighting the nazis, well, why wouldn't they give the land back to Germany. USSR was so evil that it gave so much land to Poland...

  • 2.
  • At 09:15 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • meg wrote:

many people in UE don't understand that the main aim of Russia's authority is to rebuilt the empire. They remember Lenin's statment :" natural border of Russia is English Channel". They try to realise it , a price isn't important. Today's authority are mainly from secret service former KGB. They can't think in different way. Therefore UE should be careful and always shows unity.

  • 3.
  • At 09:16 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Marius M. wrote:

Instead of relocating the Soviet soldiers monument I would like to propose a change in inscription to something along 'Remember, Soviets were here!'. This should serve as a warning and a reminder, because what they brought to this country was anything but freedom and independence. Some Polish women raped by Soviets are still alive and can testify. Those shot after being raped sadly cannot.

  • 4.
  • At 12:53 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Max Sand wrote:

The analytical content of your essays is surprisingly weak for a respectable journalist. You use a clever mix of laymen emotions, bits of history and geo-politics without making any discretion, which one is which. If you decided to expose Russian empire-building aspiration, why don’t you mention that it is US that maintain 77,000 military bases around the world? Or dozens of armed conflicts US initiated unilaterally just in the past 20 years? Or that US is the ONLY country in the world that actually used nuclear weapon? And against civilians too.
The comments in your blog are no better. If Meg wants to compare today’s Russia with Bolsheviks why does not she try to align modern German assertive behaviour in Europe with the Nazis’ supremacy claims? And why does not she also mention that the grand-grand-daddy of the current US president made millions by helping Hitler to kill hundreds of thousands Poles in concentration camps?
Cheers,
Max

  • 5.
  • At 12:53 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Nath wrote:

"Gave so much land to Poland". You seemingly forget about one little detail - the Soviets incorporated 1/3 of the pre-war Polish territory into the Soviet Union. The land in the West was merely a compensation for what they stole in the East. Everybody knows what price the Russian nation paid for victory in WWII. But it does not change the fact that their leaders were anything but "generous liberators".

  • 6.
  • At 12:54 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • david gussie wrote:

Russia has always been paranoid about other nations surrounding her. Russia isn't going to forget that she was invaded by France in the 18th century, and again by the Germans during the 20th century. The Cold War just cooled down for a while and now it is building up again. Russia is looking in the wrong direction for partners. Iran, China and the rest of Russias so called friends are not seriously interested in Russias security at all. Todays Russia needs to realize that no nation state is going to attack her, or place her at the bottom of the list of nations. The United States is not directing the missles, or the shield at Russia. As Bush pointed out the radar, and missle shield could be taken out so quickly by Russia that the U.S wouldn't even have time to react. It is impossible that the missles are directed at Russia, because they are defensive missles anyway, and non nuclear. Russia has got to get over her own isolation and join the world, in establishing that the real threat today is third world wild card nations along with terrorism, and not big power nationalism.. At least not yet.

Intense nationlism may emerge in China, and the world really needs to focus on that. China seems to going her own way, and has the economic power to do so. That is what Russia needs to worry about at this point in history, and so does the rest of the world.

  • 7.
  • At 12:58 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Bikal wrote:

Without soviets Poland and all these tiny countries would be part of Adolf Union instead of European Union.There would be no Europe but only Hitlers Germany.

  • 8.
  • At 12:58 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Elzbieta wrote:

It is not in Polish national interest to team up with far away America. If rockets can fly thousands of miles why not to move base to Angela's Merkel front yard.
200 miles further should not impact an overall rocket capability. If it DOES, move launchers closer by another 300 miles to Russia.
America is bleeding. Their troops will not come to help any other country for a long, long time. An ally without crude oil is not worthy much. Walesa's statement applies also to USA " they will also be trying to use individual countries and to dismantle our solidarity". Poland show Solidarity with the European Continent ! and start building economy. Growing season in Russia is short. Russia needs food.

As to the monuments. Certainly, we have to recognize the fact that 30,000 perished on polish soil in years 1944 - 1956.
But we also have to remember that Germans killed 2 mln Poles, 6 mln Jews, and 4 mln Russians.
If we need to move Monument of Four Sleepers, why Poles were debating making much hated Palace of Culture (the largest in size Russian Monument in Warsaw) a protected monument. In February 2007 Place of Culture and Science was effectively made just such, a protected monument.

  • 9.
  • At 01:04 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Nath wrote:

"Gave so much land to Poland". You seemingly forget about one little detail - the Soviets incorporated 1/3 of the pre-war Polish territory into the Soviet Union. The land in the West was merely a compensation for what they stole in the East. Everybody knows what price the Russian nation paid for victory in WWII. But it does not change the fact that their leaders were anything but "generous liberators".

  • 10.
  • At 01:33 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Poor, Polish people.
Every story always has 2 sides to it.
Why Russia has to sell it's oil through your country? So you can make money?
This article very sad, and ludicrous, why you so mad at Russia? It seems to me that you expect that Russia should apologise and treat you with respect? It's never going to happen, because you have no respect for Russia. You get what you deserve.

  • 11.
  • At 01:33 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Roderick V. Louis wrote:

“AN EU FOCUS ON THE ‘BIG PICTURE’ RUSSIAN ISSUES NEEDED!!”

Russia’s President Putin, like President Hu of China, is faced with immense challenges governing & leading the development of an enormous, fractious country made up of many ethnically mixed, inherently unstable regions.

Arbitrariness in internal-to-Russia decision-making and being assertive/aggressive in reactions to- or implementing policies against- real or potential activities/influences within Russia from other nations or associations of nations (like the EU)... ought to be expected, but rather than distorting their meaning as a giant plot for Russian domination of the Continent, ought to be “worked with”.

The break-up of Russia would result in a dozen or more ‘Irans’, each new-state wanting or having their own competent nuclear programmes and defense/ offensive capabilities.

Surely it is in the EU’s, and the world’s interests generally, to have a stable, focused Russia, not a fractured one that is a collection of states impervious to influence from- likely hostile to- the west/developed world, each one a nuclear proliferation disaster waiting to occur.

A priority of developed word and EU nations ought to be generously assisting Russia’s economic structural development- particularly in areas of industry standards & business law- while minimizing the types of issues likely to cause friction with and over reaction from Russia- like unnecessarily moving WWII monuments, etc.


Roderick V. Louis,
Vancouver, BC, Canada,
rvlouis@patientempowermentsociety.com

  • 12.
  • At 01:53 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Elzbieta wrote:

It is not in Polish national interest to team up with far away America. If rockets can fly thousands of miles why not to move base to Angela's Merkel front yard.
200 miles further should not impact an overall rocket capability. If it DOES, move launchers closer by another 300 miles to Russia.
America is bleeding. Their troops will not come to help any other country for a long, long time. An ally without crude oil is not worthy much. Walesa's statement applies also to USA " they will also be trying to use individual countries and to dismantle our solidarity". Poland, it is time to show Solidarity with the European Continent ! and start building economy. Growing season in Russia is short. Russia needs food.

As to the monuments. Certainly, we have to recognize the fact that 30,000 perished on polish soil in years 1944 - 1956.
But we also have to remember that Germans killed 2 mln Poles, 6 mln Jews, and 4 mln Russians.
If we need to move Monument of Four Sleepers, why Poles were debating making much hated Palace of Culture (the largest in size Russian Monument in Warsaw) a protected monument. In February 2007 Palace of Culture and Science was effectively made just such, a protected monument.

  • 13.
  • At 01:54 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Lodziak wrote:

I think the quote from Kryzsztof Bobinski best coins current Polish misgivings about a 'resurgent' Russia. The idea that Putin's policies and Russia's belligerent posturing represent a kind of 'historic continuum' rings very true indeed. It seems as if Russians need to be led by an autocracy for them to feel any sense of security or progress; it instils a kind of pride in them. However if the hapless Kaczynski twins achieved anything it was to remind Poles of their history; Poland's experience of an autocratic Russia over the last 250 years hasn't exactly been pleasant. Now with Russia behaving as it is there is not a lot to suggest that it won't happen again.

  • 14.
  • At 02:13 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Lukasz Sadowski wrote:

We will kick out this memories, just because we dont want them. We are free and nobody will tell us what kind of memories we will have here. This memories is symbol of 50 years occupation. Do you think new agrrement between EU and Russia is in our business ? We have embargo on our products, Russian strategic bombers , Russinas killing UK citizen. I just wonder what would happen when Turkey would made embargo on Greece ... As to new gov they will be just more sophisticated and more proffesional, when they will become submissive they will be smashed in next electons. If we are in EU, why not check how it realy works? Embargo on one member of EU is just grate opportunity.

  • 15.
  • At 02:15 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Jacek Wesołowski wrote:

The key to understanding the issue Poles have with monuments like the four sleepers, is that from our point of view Soviet soldiers brought neither liberty nor independence. Poland has never been a Soviet ally. Poland was a Soviet subordinate, and the communists came to power mainly because they performed a coup. Poland wasn't so much "given" any land, as moved westward, and many Poles were forced to relocate from eastern territories, which now belong to Belarus and Ukraine.

Of course, the monument is not for the Soviet state. It's for Soviet soldiers, who are seen as genuine heroes by many. But the memory of savage hordes sweeping across the country, burning women, raping houses and stealing everybody's watches, is still strong among those few who actually lived at the time (and, of course, in the mind of the young and overzealous councillor from Law and Justice party). "The four sleepers", while in common use, is not an official name. It was invented many years ago as a derogatory term, because the four figures at the base look as if they took a nap while on duty, meaning that they didn't really do what they were supposed to.

This has is a bit of grim historical context. There was an uprising in Warsaw in 1944. Polish resistance held partial control of the left-bank half of town for about two months. Soviet army entered the right bank district - that's where the monument is standing now - shortly after the uprising started. Then they did nothing, while the resistance slowly run out of resources. Some 150 thousand people died, most of them civillians caught in artillery fire. Such things are not forgotten easily, and large monuments tend to add insult to injury.

Ironically, the biggest concern of Warsaw citizens is purely contemporary. The monument is standing in the middle of major intersection, making a bit of a mess of local traffic. I can tell from personal experience, that congestion in that area during rush hours is nightmarish, in large part because the layout of lanes and tram railways is somewhat complicated. If the monument was moved away, it would make room for improvement.

As a matter of fact, it doesn't really need to move far. There is a large park, just a hundred metres away. Quite suitably, it's named after Polish army and soldiers. If the monument stood there, it could be easily interpreted as a symbol of respect and appreciation for common cause.

Fortunately, common sense usually prevails over historical complexities, and sarcasm of "the four sleepers" has faded away a long time ago. There is a huge skyscraper in downtown Warsaw, built as a "gift from the Soviet Union". Tallest building in the whole city, it's a major landmark, and a powerful symbol. After the fall of communism, many argued it should have been demolished. Instead of that, a large clock with four faces was set near the top. Now everybody in the city can tell the time without looking for their watch.

  • 16.
  • At 02:34 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • David Thompson wrote:

Some people need a History lesson. The EU once had the opportunity to include Russia. Russia is certainly one of the 4 great Euroean powers and has been since the Congress of Vienna 1815. Europe without them is't Europe. However EU Beuracrats like Italian Judges Mr. Cassese and Carla del Ponte fixed that. Where were they in 1944 when Clark was running Italy in partnership with the Fascist Badoglio? or in Japan in 1945 when Macarthur resisted the temptation to try Hirohito as a war criminal? The treatment of Serbia by the EU and the UN War Crimes tribunal helped push Russia beyond repproachment. The overt "legalism" of the EU in it's pre-conditions on Russian inclusion on the grounds of " attaining European standards" in the 1990s left Russia out and now Russia doesn't want to be included anymore. What Eupope now faces is more dangerous than the old Soviet Empire. A resurgent Russia with the natural resources, the technology and the clever people - but without the dead weight of Socialism

  • 17.
  • At 03:35 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Michal R. wrote:

If we were to look at Polish-Soviet, Polish-German history in such simplistic manner and considered only territory gained or lost as a result of wars, my answer would be for you to look at any pre W.W. II maps of Europe, and you should be able to notice that the territories Poland lost to Soviets as a result of their aggression in 1939 far exceed those gained in the west as a result of post war treaties which Poland was not even a part of. But things are not as simple as that. Just a few historical events which shaped the relationship with Poland’s neighbour to the East: Partitions of Poland in 18th century (Poland was erased from maps for 123 years and population subjected to forced germanization and russification), Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and partitions of 1939 (which followed the Nazi and Soviet military aggression), deportations to gulags, thousands murdered in Katyn in 1940, Warsaw Uprising 1944, and almost half a century of occupation. These wounds are still very fresh, and the mistrust between the two nations will remain a fact of life. For as long as those who rule Russia today are the same people who prior to 1989 served the Soviet regime, E.U. should take lessons from not so distant history, look far into the future, and stand united. It was the politics of appeasing, first the Nazis then the Soviets that helped tyrants come to power.

  • 18.
  • At 03:45 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Jake wrote:

Polish-Russian relations are far too complicated to be understood simply by brief study. We're talking about countries that have resented each other for centuries and at various points in history occupied each other's capital cities.

Russia still sees Poland as its "property" due to their brief rule over Warsaw while the Poles are unlikely to ever see their land and 1000 year old heritage in that way after fighting for it, often alone, for so long. It is often overlooked by people that despite being "granted" independence after WWI Poland had to immediately defend it against Soviet forces. Whatever help the Soviets ever provided it was countered hundred fold by the injustices it brought with it.

I for one fully understand the Polish people and am not surprised that they look to the US for support given the hardly stellar historical record of their other European allies (read: Western Betrayal).

Russia needs to work hard on cooperating with its neighbors and not wonder why everyone around them either is in NATO or is seriously contemplating NATO membership.

  • 19.
  • At 04:07 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Garvin wrote:

To Poc: Those same Soviet solders also killed thousands of Poles. Look up the Polish Home Army who fought a half decade long resistance movement against Nazi domination (to the point where they assassinated German Army Officers while they were in Germany) only to be shot down by the Red Army. You may also wish to look up the Forest Brothers, men of the Baltic states who were driven into the woods by the brutal measures of Soviet solders. There is also the stark fact of the Red Army's rape record. For the Poles it was less liberation and more trading one set of occupiers for another.

Yes, the Soviets did fight the Nazis, but only after Hitler's death-machine came roaring through their nation to the outskirts of Moscow itself. Before that they helped the Nazis dismember Poland in 1939.

Asking the Poles to be grateful to the Red Army may be asking more then you think.

  • 20.
  • At 07:05 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Cologne wrote:

It's the Economy, Stupid. Good trade relations with Russia are VITALLY important to German economy. Germany is a power house of Europe. Poland is an economic dwarf riddled with corruption and begging for debt cancellation. Mindless polish nationalism is used by Americans to weaken the competitor. But mind you we in Germany are not idiots and will not let anybody steal our economic future. We do not need new American missiles we need trade and development. We have COMMON VALUES with Russia and those are TRADE AND ECONOMIC DEVELPOMENT everything else is demagogic rubbish.

  • 21.
  • At 07:15 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • pit wrote:

To Pac
Of course Polish people want remove that kind of monuments, because Poland did not start World War II but Russia and Germany. Poland was victim so don`t be surprised they don`t want any memorials for occupants.

  • 22.
  • At 07:36 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Mark,

You quote the leader of Solidarity movement Lech Walesa as saying:
“As Europe, as the European Union, we have to show more solidarity with each other. We all have a common interest and it’s only one interest – while Russia will want to win over individual countries... And that’s why, in the name of peace and development, we have to show solidarity, not as states, but as a European continent.”

Not only Walesa understands that.
Your Latvian interlocutor (in a piece on Latvia) quotes famous warning of gen. George Washington (not of Thomas Jefferson, incidentally) during Revolutionary War:
"EITHER WE STAND TOGETHER OR WE'LL HANG SEPARATELY".

Unfortunately, it seems that hardly anybody in Old Europe wants to remember- let alone heed - this advice, just as they don't want to remember Russian leader's (V.I. Lenin) prophetic prediction:

"ONE DAY WESTERN CAPITALISTS WILL SELL US WITH JOY A ROPE ON WHICH WILL HANG THEM".

Sapienti sat.

  • 23.
  • At 08:00 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Johann wrote:

EU solidarity is not an option. Poland for example wittingly or unwittingly acts in the interests of our main competitor – US and hampers our economic ties with Russia. Solidarity leads to the lowest common denominator. It simply will not do.

Poc, Indeed Russians were generous - they gave what had naver belonged to them. At the same time they took more on the eastern side and killed hundreds of thousands of Poles who happened not to like communism. Poc, during WWII, there were two monsters fighting against each other, and Stalin is responsible for more deaths than Hitler. Here in Poland we have experienced both and liked neither. regards, Greg

  • 25.
  • At 08:44 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Polish unease towards Russia is in part due to the Soviet Union taking 50% of Polish territory at the end of World War Two, the murder of 20,000 Polish officers by Soviet forces at Katyn, and the Red Army sitting in the suburbs of Warsaw and passively watching the German Army defeating the Warsaw uprising. These are hardly actions of a nation that is friendly to Poland.

  • 26.
  • At 09:01 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Shed wrote:

Regarding Mr Poc:
1) Examine a map of Europe from the 1930s and another from the present day. I'm sure Poland did not ask to be shunted westward in order to serve a paranoid dictator's whim to A) re-assemble a semblance of an ancient Tsarist Empire, and
B) create a 'buffer zone' against the American sphere of influence

2) I highly doubt that Poland invited Molotov and Ribbentrop to host an 'end of the decade party' with Poland as the cake: games including political, economic, culutural and all other manners of repression; a natty justice system west of the Bug (and east June 41- 44) involving just two penalties for misdoings- death or concentration camp; and a public sightseeing fund in the east specialising in 'Siberia by Cattle Truck'

  • 27.
  • At 09:03 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Jesus wrote:

Did Lenin really say that the English Channel is Russia's natural border? That would have been very unleninist thing to say, given his lack of internationalism and lack of interest in entertaining nationalist sentiments of any sort. History shows that Poland undermined all alliances it took part it, be it the Warsaw Pact or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with its ridiculous veto system. Hopefully the same fate will befall EU, overtaken as it is by the US cultural, military, and economic dominance.

  • 28.
  • At 09:29 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Neil McGowan wrote:

The American case for this missile "shield" has more holes than a Swiss Cheese. It's been claimed it could be used to shoot-down missiles launched by North Korea aimed at the USA. Don't they have MAPS in the Pentagon? How would a missile launched in Pyongyang pass over POLAND? Nor would Iranian-launched missiles pass over Poland EITHER, or remotely nearby. A better location against Iranian-launched missiles would be Turkey... but the yanks aren't interested in Turkey for clear and obvious reasons.

Let's remember that Poland is the country which provided the USA with secret detention and torture facilities for "judicial rendering" cases, and is so deep in America's pocket that it will do ANYTHING the yankees demand (including breaches of the Geneva Convention, as we've already seen). Maybe Tusk will not be so "accommodating" as the neocon twins, but that's an open question.

Of course, it's very fashionable to attack Russia over gas and oil prices. For example, when Russia asked Ukraine and Georgia to pay THE GOING MARKET RATE (instead of the 50-70% *discounts* they used to get, the neo-con hawks on Capitol Hill screamed "foul"... but try finding an American gas provider that offers 50% discounts AT ALL?? So this is a non-argument that's only fooled the gullible... of course, there are lots of gullible Cold Warriors out there in la-la land.

However, the world believed the USA about "Osama in Afghanistan" (so, errr, where is he, then?), and then it believed the "WMD" story. And anyone who didn't was hounded out of office, as the British Govt did to the DG of the BBC, which shows how far and how deep the yankee grasp reaches. And soon there will be war with Iran on a similar basis. And if America said it had traded the cow for five magic beans, the world's press would be lining up for photo-opportunities of the beanstalk.

And these are the people whose "missile shield" gibberish we're expected to believe? The people who are running a Gulag in Cuba?? I'm really astounded at the level of collusion and support for a regime who have mass-murdered over half a million people in Iraq? Who have rewritten the Law to permit lawful torture by drowning??

The Mayor of Slubsk doesn't want the missile silos... but no-one dares to say "no" to Uncle Sam any more. Bad things happen if you say "no" - David Kelly found that out too late. The BBC's impartiality on this issue has been sold for a mess of pottage, to get valuable USA sign-ups for its pay-to-view services in America.

  • 29.
  • At 09:40 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Marius M. [#3] wrote:

"Instead of relocating the Soviet soldiers monument I would like to propose a change in inscription to something along 'Remember, Soviets were here!'. This should serve as a warning and a reminder, because what they brought to this country was anything but freedom and independence."


Reminds me of an anecdote popular during Helsinki Agreement negotations with USSR:

A member of a Western human rights organization critisizes KGB for killing people trying to escape from the Motherland of World Proletariat without firing warning shots first.

How dare you slander us?! -screams a bemedaled general of KGB Border Force.
-Of course we fire warning shots!

-Could you describe your procedure? -asks surprised human rights advocate.

- Naturally. We shoot the bastards and it serves as warning to others!

BTW. Hungarians have just commemorated an anniversary of their "liberation": toppling in blood of Hungarian Uprising by Red Army called in by the Soviet ambassador in Budapest, Yuri Andropov; the same fellow who, much later, after Solidarity movement had arisen, was to order GRU [Soviet military intelligence] to organize an assasination of the "Polish Pope", John Paul II - by a thrice-removed assasin hired with a little help of Bulgarian Sigurnost.

So perhaps an inscription on the above mentioned monument (and others like it) should simply warn:

"HISTORY TENDS TO REPEAT ITSELF!"

P.S. Incidentally, a similar monument in Vienna is informally referred to by its older citizens as Monument of the Unknown Rapist.


  • 30.
  • At 09:46 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Sergei Malyshev wrote:

Russia does not want to import the beef from Argenita that goes through Poland as Polish beef. This is just it. Russian Federation protects its citizen from that poisonous rubish from Poland.

Lenin gave Poland independence from Russia, and they should have thanked him for that. The break up of the SU was a disaster for millions of people not just for Putin.

And please stop complaining about Putin's ex-KGB employment: there is nothing wrong about serving in intellegence likewise there is nothing wrong for the British if someone had MI6 serving experience.

Poland has been the Trojan Horse of the US in the EU and thanks to them the EU plays in the interntaional arena as very much disintegrated entity. But Poland seems to blame Russia for everything. They should more closely look at themself, and personally at their leaders. Hope that eventually they will come to the conclusion that it is more both helpful and profitable to have pragmatic and business like relations with Russia. Lending its land to the US for the missiles is not the wise move. They just espose their people to more threats and challenges than before.

  • 31.
  • At 10:08 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Minerva wrote:

Rudyard Kipling said, the Russian is "a very good fellow until he tucks in his shirt." DO NOT forget they are not Europeans. They do not feel they have to follow our system of values.

  • 32.
  • At 10:11 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • john somer wrote:

How anybody can fall for that "missile shield", a system that does not work and will not work for at least two decades, simply supefies me. The French "force de dissuasion nucléaire", the only independent European deterrent, should be enough to make any "rogue state" think again. The British one is totallly under US control since they hold the trigger (the software that is in the US Navy's hands)

  • 33.
  • At 10:15 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Lukasz Sadowski wrote:

I m Polish, and I think that we have to check solidarity, just to know how EU works, we have embargo on our products. In curious what would happen when Turkey would do embargo only on Greece products. New agreement is not in our business, we should put veto, just because of embargo, russians spies, and their hostile policy towards us. We dont care, French, UK or Spain would do the same.

  • 34.
  • At 10:15 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Polish unease towards Russia is in part due to the Soviet Union taking 50% of Polish territory at the end of World War Two, the murder of 20,000 Polish officers by Soviet forces at Katyn, and the Red Army sitting in the suburbs of Warsaw and passively watching the German Army defeat the Warsaw Uprising. These are hardly actions of a nation that is friendly to its neighbours. The EU has to beware of Russia.

  • 35.
  • At 11:00 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Pawel from Warsaw wrote:

Cologne, it is unwise to call Poland an economic dwarf, with its sixth largest GDP in EU (comparable with South Africa's and the Netherlands) and GDP annual growth exceeding 5%.

  • 36.
  • At 11:16 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:


"Good trade relations with Russia are VITALLY important to German economy. Germany is a power house of Europe. Poland is an economic dwarf riddled with corruption and begging for debt cancellation. Mindless polish nationalism is used by Americans to weaken the competitor. But mind you we in Germany are not idiots and will not let anybody steal our economic future."[#11]


But mind you, people who remember consequences of the previous German-Russian alliance won't let it to reach Ribbentrop-Molotov stage.
They are not idiots.

  • 37.
  • At 12:11 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Dmitry wrote:

It is strange the way Poles hate Russia. Moscow was also occupied once by Poland but still we are indifferent to Poland. It seems that they would have preferred to live in ghettos under nazis. And to scorn the memory of the dead seems to be in vogue in Eastern Europe. Polish officials have already conceded to the fact that they sold low quality meat to Russia. And some people try to see politics in the consumer rights.

  • 38.
  • At 12:32 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Oksana Hasiuk wrote:

To Cologne:
you say that Germany has COMMON VALUES with Russia? Which of those do you mean? Murduring reporters, which are critical of the government? Like that had happened to Anna Politkovskaya (who was ethnic Ukrainian, by the way, from the old Ukrainian Mazepa dynasty), or putting human rights activists to the psychaetric clinics as that is happenning in Russia now and, unfortunately, is underreported by the majority of Western media, or tracking down IT specialists who dared placing videos mocking KGB Colonel Putin like that happened last year in Russian city of Novosibirsk?
Is this development of technologies to summon best IT people to FSB for interrogation? All those ARE FACTS, which I do know, because I have relatives in Russia.

All European so-called liberals like NEIL McGOWAN should face the reality: Russia is ruled now by the KGB clique, which controls everything starting from politics and private life of ordinary Russians to ALL Russia's natural resources. This clique does not care neither about Russian people nor about future of Russia, they just care about how to accumulate profits from gas and oil they receive on their secret accounts abroad, because if not so, tell me why in the times when energy prices are soaring high and keep rising, Russian pensioners receive so low pensions and prices for essential food products are so high in Russia? They can buy enough grains and all the other agriculture products and goods for the profits they receive abroad, if they don't produce them enough?
Lech Walensa is precisely correct: all Europeans, either they are members of the EU or non-members, will be facing major threat in the near 15 years, and it is Russia ruled by Stalin-type figures. Later, we will face the problem of China, because actually Chinese step by step, without any war and shifting official borders, are in Russian Far East and Siberia already, development in China is much more interesting for population of Russian Far East, because they receive cheap Chinese goods, drive Japanese cars and learn Chinese and Japanese rather than Rassian and English. This is the truth, which leadership in Moscow does not want to mention, because they do know that they have only 15 years left to enrich themselves, and they use all their diplomacy and bullying to reach that goal.

  • 39.
  • At 01:07 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • P. Råman wrote:

One may well be justified to worry about Russia's growing aggressiveness. A Russian diplomat recently threatened Finland not to join NATO - but was swiftly rebuked by his bosses, who realised that what the idiot had said was likely to raise the (currently low) Finnish support for NATO sky-high.

What is sad is that Poland and the Czech Rep. have fallen for this American missile trick, the sole aim of which is to divide-and-rule Europe, and prevent any European-Russian rapprochement. Since when did the Poles have any quarrel with North Korea or Iran...???

  • 40.
  • At 01:22 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ciarán Reilly wrote:

The Poles are right to be cautious. The Putin régime is incapable of having normal relations with any of its neighbours. It doesn't see them as potential allies; rather it sees in them something small, something to be reabsorbed, dominated and used. When a mouse scurries across the floor, isn't it in a cat's nature to lift up its head and run after it? A cat will never be friends with a mouse. It's the same with Russia. If it's a small country within reach, they will plot and scheme to undermine that country with the ultimate intention of gobbling it up.

  • 41.
  • At 02:59 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

I am not Polish. As a Briton I am aware how parts of our imperial past are difficult and that British polical leaders have appoligised for some parts of British imperial behaviour, but I haver never heard a Russian apologise for anything done to Poland. And from the comments on this blog they are still unapologetic and unrepentant.

  • 42.
  • At 04:25 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I can understand why the author allows to go unchallenged falseties and inaccuracies in the statements of people he interviews - you can't check everything people tell you.
E.g., Russia DOES NOT intend to target "European cities" (immediately bringing to mind London, Paris etc.) - only the actual "Son of Star Wars" sites in the Polish and Chech countriside.
Russia DOES NOT border Poland (except for the small Kaliningrad enclave) hence could not attack it even if it wanted.
More galling is that the author fails to check HIS OWN statements which he passess off as self-evident truths. Schroeder IS NOT on the board of Gazprom - he is on the board of a JV between Gazprom and two major German companies. Etc etc.
On the subject of "EU solidarity", does solidarity equate with "the lowest common denominator"? Shouldn't the new EU member states express solidarity with the likes of Germany, France, Italy and the UK who all vitally NEED, and usually HAVE, good relationships with Russia?

  • 43.
  • At 06:48 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • dilip wrote:

Most former Warsaw Pact countries, including Poland, would be better off being non-aligned. This is because they need the technology of America and they need the energy resources of Russia.

Look at the non-European country India. Here is a nation that enjoys good relations with both Russia and America. This has proved to be extremely benefical for the Indian economy.

Some Europeans may have a historical grudge against their neighbours, but these negativities must be put to bed. We cannot allow the past to destroy the future.

  • 44.
  • At 07:00 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Germany is a power house of Europe. Poland is an economic dwarf riddled with corruption.[#17]


May I ask what's a level of corruption at SIEMENS, VOLKSWAGEN and AIRBUS these days?

Any improvement?

  • 45.
  • At 08:08 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • gary kruk wrote:

IN RESPONSE TO THE COMMENT BELOW - IF YOU KNEW OF PRE-WAR GEOGRAPHY YOU WOULD KNOW THAT POLAND WAS LARGER BEFORE WW2 THAN AFTER. RUSSIA ONLY GAVE POLAND GERMAN LAND WHILE TAKING EVEN MORE LAND FROM THE EASTERN SIDE FOR THEMSELVES.

Comments Post your comment
1. At 07:55 PM on 23 Oct 2007, Poc wrote:
If they want to remove a memorial for thousands of soldiers who died fighting the nazis, well, why wouldn't they give the land back to Germany. USSR was so evil that it gave so much land to Poland...

  • 46.
  • At 08:57 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Dilip wrote:

Most former Warsaw Pact countries, including Poland, would be better off being non-aligned. This is because they need the technology of America and they need the energy resources of Russia.

Look at the non-European country India. Here is a nation that enjoys good relations with both Russia and America. This has proved to be extremely benefical for the Indian economy.

Some Europeans may have a historical grudge against people from neighbouring countries, but these negativities must be put to bed. We cannot allow the past to destroy the future.

  • 47.
  • At 09:01 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Jarek Pacek wrote:

It's amazing how many people nowadays seem to forget that USSR entered the WWII Sep 17th 1939 as Hitler's ally. From this perspective all the following events including the soviet "liberation" of Central Europe, can be set as internal fight of two gangsters. All the equations that Stalin killed only 1.8 M Poles while Hitler killed 1.9 M of them can not really change the big picture here. The Hitler's invasion of Poland and killing 6 M Jews would also never be the case if the Molotov-Ribentropp agreement was not in place. The "sacrified" numbers of russian or german soldiers are reflecting nothing but their dictator's ambitions and can not make any argument here. Should really one of that dirty war sides be honoured because their dominance lasted longer than the other's?

  • 48.
  • At 09:49 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • to Dmitry wrote:

I think that weariness toward Russia in Poland and other Eastern European nations has nothing to do with them wanting to have lived under the Nazis and more to due with the governments that the Soviet Union put in place in those countries after the war. With Poland in particular you also have the added fact that the Soviets joined the Nazis in invading and occupying their nation.

  • 49.
  • At 10:13 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

To Sergiei Malyshew #27
1.Poland has best food in Europe. If you don't belive, you should go to London or Warsaw and taste it.
2. I don't understand, how Lenin gave Poland independence. But you should check, how many Russian people Lennin and Stalin killed.
You should learn true history. It's important
3. If someone worked for intelligence, he never be normal. He should't roule a county.

4. Poland is a independent country and can do everything. Time, when Russia dominated was ended and never come back.

I like Russian people very much and I whish them better President.
They can make better live for everyone because of money from oil, but they make beter live only for selected.

  • 50.
  • At 12:10 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • maj wrote:

As for Europe I believe you should have good relation ship with your next door country....that who your sharing the wall with not cross the sea First ,... second to have the interception missile system build in Poland ...! did you ask yourself , what will happen when the missile war head if it was are shot down .. where the nuclear war head or the fall out will fall in Russian country side and the rest off Europe ... why does not USA build it intercepting missile system in The Gulf or in Turkey so if Iran lunch an attack on USA it can achieve it objection and keep the damage to a minimum in IRAN than have the missile explode in all over Europe sky and land and Air... USA is building It missile shilled in Europe nothing to do with Iran its to send a massage To Russia and to keep Russia in Check... the cold war did not go away it just got colder its not Military challenge it NOW financial matter , They do not like it Russian is Rising up as as a finical supper power , and USA is now loosing it status in the world South America countries is bluffing the USA , EUROPE , South East asia is no longer player India and China are the only one matter and Russian are not worry about them , the USA is only in it for itself there national interests.. Just look at it History, What it did And how it Did it , for the memorial statue In poland of the past you can move them BUT lets not forget ... by removing them you will never wipe history away ... even there not in our eyes... second.. your history will always catch up with you........and I hope it may not repeat it self...! why not be facing our self be proud off where we have been , and where we going to be ...If you worry about the past you will never be a step a head .

  • 51.
  • At 12:34 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Stephen Lodziak wrote:

I think the quote from Kryzsztof Bobinski best coins current Polish misgivings about a 'resurgent' Russia. The idea that Putin's policies and Russia's belligerent posturing represent a kind of 'historic continuum' rings very true indeed. It seems as if Russians need to be led by an autocracy for them to feel any sense of security or progress; it instils a kind of pride in them. However if the hapless Kaczynski twins achieved anything it was to remind Poles of their history; Poland's experience of an autocratic Russia over the last 250 years hasn't exactly been pleasant. Now with Russia behaving as it is there is not a lot to suggest that it won't happen again.

  • 52.
  • At 04:29 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • meteora wrote:

"It is strange the way Poles hate Russia." Really?

From September 1939 to June 1941 the Soviet Union deported approximately 1.5 million Polish citizens (mostly ethnic Poles) to frozen Gulags in Siberia and Kazakhstan. Thats a lot of people. This was intended to remove "socially dangerous and anti-Soviet elements" including women and children.

My father was about four years old when he and his family were deported. He lost most of his family and after his release, spent approximately seven years in displaced persons camps.

This is only ONE of a series of injustices that have had an enormous psychological impact that endures till this day.

I don't think that Poles hate the Russian people at all. They fear their government and its policies and with a history like that, who can blame them.

  • 53.
  • At 05:19 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Thomas from Canada wrote:

Why does it have to be EU against Russia? Would it not make sense to include Russia in EU? It seems to me they are more European then Turkey.
All your ennergy concerns would be solved. However as long as you allow USA to spread the seed of discord between you and Russia along with your incompetent but ever threatening NATO you will have to warry about Russia being a reliable supplier. After all trade is being used as a tool of foreign policy by all nations Polish and Baltic whining not withstanding. It is not fair to ask Russia to not use it. You constantly (and this goes back to the days of Peter the Great)souround that nation with hostility. Europe cut it out and come to your senses.

  • 54.
  • At 06:22 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Zhorka wrote:

Surely, the polish comrades should know that territories which USSR annexed in 1945 were taken by poles from Russia in 1920. Stalin merely returned what rightfully belonged to Russia. He did not have to give anything to Poland in return (what for, after all?), and so the German territories that Poland got after WW2 is a good-will gesture on Stalin's part. If poles were a grateful nation, they would build monuments to Stalin all accross Poland.

Anyhow, I do not undestand Polish grivances against Russia. If they want any territories back, they should approach Ukraine, Lithuania, and Belorussia.

  • 55.
  • At 06:35 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Lukasz wrote:

To Poc:

You are talking about Russian Soldiers that freed Poland from Germans and occupied Poland for next 45 years.

During Warsaw Uprising they were standing on the other side of Wistula River and did nothing to help. Thousands of people died and Warsaw was totaly destroyed.

My point is that this monument should not be standing there. It should be removed or moved to different place.

  • 56.
  • At 07:16 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Sven H. wrote:

"Poland is an economic dwarf riddled with corruption."[#17]

Educate yourself Cologne. Poland has a GDP of over 500 billion Dollars. Hardly a dwarf.

"May I ask what's a level of corruption at SIEMENS, VOLKSWAGEN and AIRBUS these days? Any improvement?"[#41]

Kind of an odd reaction Mirek considering that your favorite candidate in the recent Polish elections (you know, the one that lost) himself painted a picture of Poland riddled with corruption.

  • 57.
  • At 07:59 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Jennifer wrote:

I read terrible things about Russia in the papers, I watch terrible things about Russia on TV. But you know what I do not buy it any more. Why? Our company trades with Russia. I visited Russia frequently and learnt the language (it was not easy). Russia is probably the most calumniated county in the world. Our American friends know only too well how to brainwash people around the world and slander those who challenge them.

  • 58.
  • At 09:29 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

Russia DOES NOT intend to target "European cities" (immediately bringing to mind London, Paris etc.) - only the actual "Son of Star Wars" sites in the Polish and Chech countriside.[#42]

Are you saying Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavrov's have NOT made such threats publicly, and Mark's simply misinformed?

Incidentally, ICBM's [nuclear warheads' carrying missiles] are not "targeted"/ pointed at anything.

They're always launched vertically for obvious reasons (laws of physics). Their trajectory after launch is determined (in the burn phase) by navigational data entered into their on-board computers. Those coordinates can be reprogrammed and re-entered into those computers literally in a New York minute.

So official claims that something is being targeted or not targeted amount to nothing. Only people on the receiving end would be able to tell what the real target was.

Or maybe they wouldn't. :-(

  • 59.
  • At 10:49 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew- UPA wrote:

It is very interesting as a Ukrainian to read these comments. How quickly Polish people forget that the lands you 'lost' in the East were never ethnically Polish in the first place. You were occupiers too- Polonization of Ukrainian population did take place. The Russians did the same in Eastern Ukraine too but on a much heavier and destructive scale. Hence the divide today. Our history is still unknown in the West and to many Poles and Russians. What most people forget is that Hitler beat Stalin when it came to Operation Barbarossa. Documented evidence proves the Man of Steel intended to invade the Reich. In any case both men were equally power hungry.

We as Eastern Europeans have deep traditions, history and culture - it runs in our blood. One can play tit for tat when it comes to our past. For us time does not heal old wounds. Therefore in order for us to progress, we MUST learn to forgive and forget. This is the ultimate challenge for us Slavs. I have many Polish and Russian friends who share my sentiments. For progression to occurr between all of our great nations, we must respect eachother and forget the politics played by our politicians- they all have dirty hands.

  • 60.
  • At 11:43 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Connie wrote:

To Jennifer:
I don't know where you live but I'm American and haven't seen anything bad about Russia except for the boot camp that they have teaching national pride (nothing wrong with that)until you start teaching that Americans are the enemy. So now there will be a whole generation with the old cold war mentality.It doesn't take Americans blackmailing or slandering anyone. The people that lived under Russia's control know her best even if she is "so called" democratic.

  • 61.
  • At 12:15 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Poland has every right to remove that statue as it is a reminder of the atrocities committed against it's citizens by the dictators claiming to liberate it. What I don't hear though is the UK backing Poland very much, after all there is a very large Polish population in the UK and they fought alongside the UK in WWII, remember their aircrew in the battle of Britain and bomber command. They also have managed to integrate very well in England over the years, so speak up Gordon Brown or are you embarrassed over supporting a Nation that has shown it's bottle over the years, either that or maybe you prefer the Communism that Russia would like to inflict on the EU if it could.

  • 62.
  • At 02:21 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Joe Cassidy wrote:

Reading comments above i am struck with a sense of mistrust and anxiety regarding Russia. Yes, the governmaent has moved backwards from a more open western style democracy, is this a bad thing? Russia is a state coming to terms with the effects of soviet social policy. It is fractured along ethnic lines and needs a strong hand to stay unified as the soviets ensured. A resurgent Russia should be viewed as an opportunity. The EU should be taking a strong line with Russia but also becoming more and more economically entangled. The EU exsists now because economic ties were seen as a way to avoid war in europe. A resounding success in my view. The EU should take the same policy with Russia, encourage peace and stability with the Euro, Dollar and Pound. Russian social development and government reform will occur at it's own pace. Economic intergration is a way not only to ensure peace with Russia but also with China. Russias entrance into the WTO should be the start of this process. EU policy towards Russia should have this process at the forefront. Russia is still reeling from it's fall from grace, lets ensure it's rise back to power is with the hand of the EU helping it up.

  • 63.
  • At 03:14 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Lana wrote:

“Perhaps, to put things in a proper context, it should be remembered (learnt?) that Soviet Russia was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany in 1933-1941 period. “ from Mirek Kondracki

Mirek, I am cherishing your ability to twist the history as you like if it helps you to give one more kick to Russia. I think you should read the history better. What about the year 1938, The Munich Agreement between Britain, France and Germany, when Czechoslovakia was divided and occupied by Germany, Poland and Hungary. That’s in fact when the WWII starts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement
By the way the USSR proposed the Western Powers to participate in collective security against the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan) but failed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Litvinov
As the result of that failure Litvinov who was at that time the minister of foreign affairs was substituted by Molotov. Good if you try to understand that the Non-Aggression Pact signed in 1939 was a direct consequence of the Munich Agreement.
And I would like also to remind you that Dzerzhinsky who was responsible for the foundation of the KGB and for the death of so many Russians was of Polish origin. Lenin and Stalin were not Russians either. And one more remind: no other nation suffered so much from the communist regime as Russians did and no other nation in fact resisted the communist regime as much. It’s also nice for you to remember that the communism in face of Lenin was exported to Russia by the West in a “sealed train”:
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/bolshevik_revolution/chapter_03.htm
By the way about the polish meat, three years ago we here in Norway had a problem with it too. It was infected by salmonella. So Norway stopped to import it.

  • 64.
  • At 04:53 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • anthony wrote:

I think most Poles, Ukrainans, Lithuanians, ect can agree on one thing. They do not hate Russians. They hate the government and they hated not being free. The Russian people themselves have only tasted freedon for a number of short years and are now headed back down the drak path of a totalitarian society.

Because the Russians have never been free under any government (except Gorby and Yeltsin), they don't know how to defend their priceless democracy. Instead they are fed lies from the government and heavilly indoctronated with patriotic zeal like some of the Russian posters on this site who are victim and prime example of what indoctrination does.

I hope they grasp the concept of democracy before it disappears off the supermarket shelf forever.

  • 65.
  • At 05:28 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Hmmm... to the Russians and Ukrainians saying that Polish territories in the East were "invaded" by Polnd in the 1920 or so, or were never ethnically Polish... check the history of the area PLEASE. No point just shouting at each other.

To the Russian, your point is completely misinformed. I suggest you read some history from before 1920.

To the Ukrainian, you are both right and wrong. Ukraine is a BIG place. Some parts of Western Ukraine were ethnically Polish or of the same people/tribes, BEFORE they were taken over by Kievan Rus, and then inherited by Ukraine. Then Ukraine was inherited by Poland from Lithuania, you can say Poland conqured the other parts of Ukraine that were never ethnically Polish... but then a lot of Polish people settled there. This is even more complicated in that nationality there in the past was based on social status... the Polish peasants who settled in Ukraine were considered Ukrainian... while the nobility in the Commonwealth that was of Ukrainian extraction was considered Polish... Wisniowiecki was Ukrainian originally.

... then Russia conqured BOTH Ukraine and large parts of Poland until the 1920 or so the Russian speaks of.

TO the Germans, look at the map of Poland from the time of its formation. You will see that those "German lands" were originally Polish, but were slowly conquered by Prussia and Germany.

To everyone, I think we should all listen to Walesa! We need a new solidarity. Germany needs a STRONG Poland in the EU so it can count on its support. Poland needs a strong Germany so it can do the same. We DO NOT need Russia or its values... unless these values evolve beyond imperialism.

The simple reason Poland looks for an alliance with the US is that it CAN NOT rely on its European partners as things currently stand. It is enough to look at the attitude of the Germans posting here... contempt for Poland... love of Russia... yet the same people demand Poland does not make alliances with countries like the US that will actualy support their allies?!

I think perhaps the German attitude would be different if ALL of Germany got to experience the Russian values after WWII, rather than just the poor and marginalised East Germany.

  • 66.
  • At 06:17 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Beata wrote:

I think Zhorka's comment hits the nail on the head. Before WWII polish territory included that of Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine. Therefore it is not accurate to claim that truly polish lands were taken away in the aftermath of the war. I am pretty certain that Ukraine wouldn't be very eager to make Poland happy by giving away its land. On the issue of Lenin giving Poland the independence, you have to remember that after the revolution Russia witdrew from the WW I and didn't claim any jurisdiction over Poland. In a sense it helped the Poland independence, although it might have been achieved even without that at the peace talks in Paris.
The meat issue is another one over which Poles are crying foul. the fact is that Russians didn't want the meat laced with antibiotics which was produced in the US and Argentina and passed to Russia as polish meat.
Thank you

  • 67.
  • At 11:48 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Jukka Rohila wrote:

To Thomas from Canada

You suggest that all problems with EU and Russia would go away if Russia would be submitted to European Union. Unfortunately this is not true. The reality is that in that point problems would really start.

All the problems with EU-Russia relationship stem from the attitude of Russian government. They still have state centric view and view all things as power struggle. The point of view of EU and her member states are citizen centric. So it's 'All for the glory of motherland' vs. 'How may we work together for the common good'.

It should also be noted that Russia is a third world country. What makes Russia different from the rest no-rule-of-law fake-democracies is it's massive land mass and huge stockpile of nuclear weapons. Yes, Moscow and St. Petersburg are quite developed, but I welcome you to go to deep into other areas of Russia, that's the real Russia, the undeveloped and non integrated Russia.

On a note. As European and Finnish, I'm not terribly afraid of Russia. For Russian government, Europe and USA are not problems, their biggest problem is China. Just wait for the day when China is in the same league as USA. If they ever create a working missile shield, there is a very real possibility that China will take Siberia with force. The Russian government knows this and as they don't have any answers they try to kick and scream as loud as they can to somebody who is mostly harmless (that's Europe).

  • 68.
  • At 03:26 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

If poles were a grateful nation, they would build monuments to Stalin all accross Poland.[#54]


They did. Between 1948 and 1953.

I think a presence of friendly troops of the Soviet Army occupying their country mightily increased their gratitude.

  • 69.
  • At 04:23 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Hmmm... to the Russians and Ukrainians saying that Polish territories in the East were "invaded" by Polnd in the 1920 or so, or were never ethnically Polish... check the history of the area PLEASE. No point just shouting at each other.

To the Russian, your point is completely misinformed. I suggest you read some history from before 1920.

To the Ukrainian, you are both right and wrong. Ukraine is a BIG place. Some parts of Western Ukraine were ethnically Polish or of the same people/tribes, BEFORE they were taken over by Kievan Rus, and then inherited by Ukraine. Then Ukraine was inherited by Poland from Lithuania, you can say Poland conqured the other parts of Ukraine that were never ethnically Polish... but then a lot of Polish people settled there. This is even more complicated in that nationality there in the past was based on social status... the Polish peasants who settled in Ukraine were considered Ukrainian... while the nobility in the Commonwealth that was of Ukrainian extraction was considered Polish... Wisniowiecki was Ukrainian originally.

... then Russia conqured BOTH Ukraine and large parts of Poland until the 1920 or so the Russian speaks of.

TO the Germans, look at the map of Poland from the time of its formation. You will see that those "German lands" were originally Polish, but were slowly conquered by Prussia and Germany.

To everyone, I think we should all listen to Walesa! We need a new solidarity. Germany needs a STRONG Poland in the EU so it can count on its support. Poland needs a strong Germany so it can do the same. We DO NOT need Russia or its values... unless these values evolve beyond imperialism.

The simple reason Poland looks for an alliance with the US is that it CAN NOT rely on its European partners as things currently stand. It is enough to look at the attitude of the Germans posting here... contempt for Poland... love of Russia... yet the same people demand Poland does not make alliances with countries like the US that will actualy support their allies?!

I think perhaps the German attitude would be different if ALL of Germany got to experience the Russian values after WWII, rather than just the poor and marginalised East Germany.

  • 70.
  • At 07:22 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Hania wrote:

Soviet Union was Hitler's ally for the first half of the second world war. Both countries invaded Poland in September 1939 and even staged joint victory parade. Millions of Poles were murdered by both Germans and Soviets (Russia was just one of the republics, Stalin was actually Georgian). Why are Soviet attrocities (including against their own citizens)ignored in the West? Are they embarrasing?

Honesty about history (apology and forgiveness) and end to propaganda may lead to improved relationships between countries.

I care about Russia and hope that Russians one day have a good, democratic government, and not a blood-stained semi-dictatorship of ex-KGB agents. Anna Politkovskaya was inspiring and very brave. My respect and admiration to people in Russia who carry on Her legacy.

  • 71.
  • At 07:58 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Lana wrote:

“Perhaps, to put things in a proper context, it should be remembered (learnt?) that Soviet Russia was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany in 1933-1941 period. “ from Mirek Kondracki

Mirek, I am cherishing your ability to twist the history as you like if it helps you to give one more kick to Russia. I think you should read the history better. What about the year 1938, The Munich Agreement between Britain, France and Germany, when Czechoslovakia was divided and occupied by Germany, Poland and Hungary. That’s in fact when the WWII starts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement
By the way the USSR proposed the Western Powers to participate in collective security against the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan) but failed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Litvinov
As the result of that failure Litvinov who was at that time the minister of foreign affairs was substituted by Molotov. Good if you try to understand that the Non-Aggression Pact signed in 1939 was a direct consequence of the Munich Agreement.
And I would like also to remind you that Dzerzhinsky who was responsible for the foundation of the KGB and for the death of so many Russians was of Polish origin. Lenin and Stalin were not Russians either. And one more remind: no other nation suffered so much from the communist regime as Russians did and no other nation in fact resisted the communist regime as much. It’s also nice for you to remember that the communism in face of Lenin was exported to Russia by the West in a “sealed train”:
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/bolshevik_revolution/chapter_03.htm
By the way about the polish meat, three years ago we here in Norway had a problem with it too. It was infected by salmonella. So Norway stopped to import it.

  • 72.
  • At 08:20 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

“I read terrible things about Russia in the papers, I watch terrible things about Russia on TV. But you know what I do not buy it any more. Why? Our company trades with Russia. I visited Russia frequently and learnt the language (it was not easy). Russia is probably the most calumniated county in the world. Our American friends know only too well how to brainwash people around the world and slander those who challenge them.”

To Jennifer
It’s interesting that I have come to a similar conclusion. I had studied Russian at university then I worked in Russia and now I am working in America. Russia is definitely the most calumniated country in the world. And Americans are playing a pivotal role in this long libel campaign. It’s very interesting to observe how it works. You will never find out that that you are lied to if you do not know the language. Americans are using simple but astonishingly effective techniques. For example the one I call “Russian expert technique”. Watch CNN, CBS, NBC read WP or WSJ and you will meet those “Russian experts” they are always there when they cover Russia. These “Russian experts” are ethnic Russians they speak relatively good English and you naturally assume that they know what they are saying about their own country. But here lies a trap. These Russian experts are fake Russians if you know what I mean. Check their background find out how they earn their living. They are all sustained by our American friends and it’s hardly surprising they pour dirt on Russia it’s the way they make their living. Take Madam Anna Politkovskaya case (by the way do you know that she is detested by 99.9% of Russians). This “prominent journalist” received thousands of dollars for her “heroic reporting” (barefaced lie produced for ignorant western audience). Then she was killed by “criminal Putin regime”(my dear American friends I am not so naïve to believe this nonsense. Follow the money – as they say…)


  • 73.
  • At 08:24 AM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Actually it is really so sad that some of “Western” partners are trying to blame Russia in every comment or post (they are always the same people). You are making parallels of today`s Russia with former USSR. But it`s just the same thing as to compare today`s Germany with Hitler`s one or today`s France with Napoleonian times. It is really stupid to make quotations of Lenin. He died many-many years ago. He IS NOT one of our officials… =) At the same time USSR consisted not only of Russia but Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic states, Kazahstan etc… why are always blaming only us for USSR steps! Frankly speaking many of USSR leaders were not of Russian origin!!! Stalin was not Russian – he was Georgian! Khrushev, for instance, was Ukrainian (and he has presented russian Crimea as a gift for Ukraine!)… Millions of Russian together with Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians etc suffered during Soviet regime. But you do not take that into account… you say… Russians… Russians… always Russians…

And please, do not blame us for Palitkovskaya`s and Litvinenko`s tragic deaths. If you are logic you will understand that it was not in Putin`s interests… ( it was done to create anti-Russian hysteria in Europe). If Russian secret forces wanted to kill Litvinenko I`m sure they would have done it more skillfully (bandit robbing, silent shooting, etc).

Concerning oil & gas… It was Russia who offered energetic stability and is trying to build in cooperation with Germany, Greece, Bulgaria other routes (not on Ukrainian, Latvian and Estonian territories) because we understand that it will take a long time to make trusted relations with Baltic states due to the fact their politicians hate Russia. It just economy! If it is in German interest why should Germany brake down relations with Russia because of the embargo of Polish (Argentinean) poised meat.

The thing is that Russia is trying to be democratic, but of course it can`t happen overnightly. If you really want to see the changes, please visit Russia for some days before blaming it with USSR history. I`m sure you`ll be welcomed!

  • 74.
  • At 02:11 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Pawel from Warsaw wrote:

Beata, let me cite your peace-loving Lenin, head of Russia's Communists Party, "giving Poland independence" in 1920:

"We could and should take advantage of the military situation to begin an offensive war [...] somewhere near Warsaw lies not [only] the center of the Polish bourgeois government and the republic of capital, but the center of the whole contemporary system of international imperialism, and that circumstances enabled us to shake that system, and to conduct politics not in Poland but in Germany and England [...] By destroying the Polish army we are destroying the Versailles Treaty on which nowadays the entire system of international relations is based [...] Had Poland become Soviet [...] the Versailles Treaty [...] and with it the whole international system arising from the victories over Germany, would have been destroyed."

Interesting perhaps also for Jesus[#27], doubting Lenin's plans regarding the English Channel. Celebrating the end of WWI, please do also remember the Polish, which in an all-out military effort stopped in 1920 the Russians from inflaming Old Europe with another devastating war.

Poland - EU's selfish and quarrelsome dwarf, haunted by its past? Seems not to be true. Our political experience in Eastern Europe is invaluable and worth to be taken into consideration. So please do not disregard our anxiety, concerning Putin's increasingly nationalistic and authoritarian Russia, which regards freeing of dozens of European countries from Kremlin's iron grip “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” (as Mr. Putin put it).

  • 75.
  • At 08:39 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Who can blame russia for resisting the EU telling them how to behave. I wish the UK would. Sure Russia is throwing its weight about but do th ePoles and anyone else in Eastern Europe really think Russia wants to invade and control them. Russia just wants to be treated equally after a decade of being kicked whilst down. Europe and the US were quick to have the USSR fall apart in the name of "democracy" but didn't stop to consider the consequences. Also how can the EU and the US lecture Russia on democratic principles when one invades a nother country without provocation and then Eu states try to put through a treaty without asking its citizens?

  • 76.
  • At 09:05 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

US strategic analysts have stated that BMD is not only a shield but also an enabler of US action -it reads like a marvel comic - "masters of the world". God help us all

  • 77.
  • At 09:19 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I think it's perfectly reasonable to dismantle a soviet memorial from the centre of town. If the Russians had come to Poland's assistance in 1939, rather than invading Poland in support of Hitler, then massacring Polish officers and the intelligantsia, perhaps less people would have died in that war.

We should respect the dead, but let's not believe the version of history as written by the bully please.

  • 78.
  • At 09:24 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Jenas wrote:

Poland in the past several times occupied neighbors such as Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany as well as Russia. Doesn't sound like a peace-loving nation. Granted, Poland was also occupied by its neighbors too. That was our PAST! Everyone in Europe went through similar process, get over it.

As for polish meat and produce. What do you expect from Russia? Just think for a sec. All those endless moaning and asking for apology, planting US missiles and then demand that Russia MUST buy something from you. Would you? I doubt it, if you act as an enemy then don't expect someone would act as a friend. I know some Russians, nice people, but sometime could be very stubborn.

I don't think with current attitude Poland would get anything from Russia. And all those appeals to EU or international trade law will fail, you can't force someone to be your friend by law.

  • 79.
  • At 09:28 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Jan Knytl wrote:

If the radar and the missile interceptors are not aimed at Russia, then why base them in new-member NATO states?
For that matter why keep on expanding NATO eastward, especially as the Russians dissolved the Warsaw Pact many years ago now.
Why not base the the radar and the missiles in Saudi Arabia where they would be "literally a stone's throw away" from the stated threat of Iranian missiles?
Don't you think that would support both the "stated aims and political statements much more truly"?
Over 70% of Czechs are not in favour of the current plans. Now, why would that be?

  • 80.
  • At 09:30 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • joao wrote:

There is an old saying that says:"Don't bite the hand that feeds you." If Europe needs Russian gas then Europe should not behave so high handed about its values. Secondly, don't rely on a friend farway when you have a potential enemy next door.
Thirdly, not everyone appreciates American friendship, so beware and don't rush into a friendship that may end up in hardship.

  • 81.
  • At 09:47 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Mohan wrote:

Although the Soviet Union perished on its own weight, and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, the US and NATO continued to expand militarily by thumping the nose on Russia at every opportunity they got. The US acted intoxicated with the military power and continued to impose its will on the world. The US attitude became worse after the new regimes of Bush and Cheney took control of the reigns of this country. They are trigger-happy and will not think for a second time if military force is used against anyone, who oppose the US policy. The US always wanted some villains, and any one who opposed its policies or even tried to protect their own national interests were branded as threats to the world. The US govt. always got a press that dance according to the war tunes of the regimes. the worst is that American people do not simply care if the US is killing thousands of civilians, use weapons of mass destruction so long as they get to watch their favorite soap operas and evening comedies. While they are involved in their fun moments, they do not realize their own military is butchering people all over the world and their leaders are discussing where to unleash the next batch of weapons. Peoples' conscience failed, compassion obliterated, justice denied, and world peace and kindness lie bleeding. Alas!

  • 82.
  • At 09:49 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Lucas wrote:

as soon as US missiles are in Poland the russians will set their nuclear missiles in auto-launch mode because human decision taking will be impossible due to lack of reaction time.

  • 83.
  • At 10:06 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Good article. I think the main concern some poles have is that they are once more in the middle, much the same as East Germany would have taken the brunt of any conflict prior to the reunification.

I cannot see why Bush is bothering. Any country realises that an attack on the USA with weapons of mass destruction will almost certainly be responded to in kind, and in sufficient quantities to reduce the said aggressor to dust.

Regardless of Russia's human rights records and so on, it is more important to avoid escalating tensions. It is very easy to overstep the mark. It is worrying with Bush especially, since he is nearing his second term as President, which means automatic retirement.

To be blunt; he's screwed up Iraq, now he looks like he could screw up Poland.

  • 84.
  • At 11:39 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Ian Watson wrote:

What a most thoroughly anti-Russian piece I ever saw...

Firstly, in regards to the Missile Shield crisis, what is being forgotten here is that the greater population in both Czechoslovakia and Poland DO NOT WANT the Americans to build bases.

It is only bought politicians that want the shield, the people certainly don't.

If for instance a "rogue state" did indeed fire a weapon and it was intercepted, the Polish and neighbouring countries know full well it is going to break up over their heads possibly killing thousands or more on a grander scale as radiation knows no bounds.

But because the US has abandoned "safety catch" treaties and because it has entered into the "pre-emptive" frame of mind, notwithstanding that Bush truly believes America can now win a "first strike" scenario Russia has vowed not to be caught by this or the shield, this means Russia will strike now at a lower threshold than before and with it will first go all missile bases, radars, logistics, troop centres, depots and communications that are allied to the American cause, this means multiple strikes in most EU nations long before those sent to the US will hit.

We are at a crossroads, on one hand we have the "evil" Russia with all its essential oil and gas and we have on the other hand the "heroic" America who sits in Europe and Britain dictating our policy to us and forcing us to follow their lead down unpleasant routes.

In reality though, all we are, are decoys, designed to draw fire from Russia and to ensure that Russia exhausts part of its arsenal against us first.

So like good little Americophiles, we sit there and abuse the Russians BUT demanding that they MUST sell us their oil and gas...

Has it not occurred to anyone that Russia is not legally bound to sell us one ounce of gas or one litre of oil and can quite easily sell it to an eager China whilst we freeze and our economies fall into a chasm?

And I wonder if this site in the article is not indeed one of the black-op prisons, certainly fits the criteria...

  • 85.
  • At 02:22 AM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Toms wrote:

Poles always had paranoya about Russia. They should just get on with it.It's 21 century, nobody going to divide or attack Poland again! Russia protecting its own interests and territory nowadays.

  • 86.
  • At 03:32 AM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Chavo wrote:


Dear Polish friends,
As history has already shown you, you do not have many friends. Polish lands have been invaded by Germans, French, Russians, you name it. Also, remember that Poland as well as other central European and Eastern European countries were sold (or if you prefer traded) to the Soviets by the West.

If neither Western nor Eastern powers are your true fiends, you might wanna take a step forward, leave the past where it belongs, learn from it and move forward. No-one is going to invade you country and threaten your territory. Not today, things are done in a different way.

Most of todays politics revolves around economics. And I am having a feeling you victim-mentality may stand in your way to start solving problems by yourselves. You have a big and resourceful country with plenty of population. What are you gonna do?

  • 87.
  • At 07:17 AM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Vld wrote:

Astonishing !
Being Russian (I do not know my nationality – just a place where I born) I never have a moment of thought what a pain, humiliation and hatred Poland feels.
Also interesting to observe that it is going towards not a past , but a present and even future.
May be I am wrong but based on my experience being Russian in West Siberia and Central Russia last 40+ years I have not see such feelings towards Japanese, British, Americans, French, Polish (and even Tatars !) or anybody else despite different history .
Talking about nationality - just curiosity - Iosif Stalin was a Georgian, Dzierżyński – Polish. I was born on a North of West Siberia , because all my grands was repressed in 1937 in a row with a millions of executed. Natioanality of those ? every nationality of the territory called in those years USSR . Most of them? russians. Do I hate any particular nation or person ? Ownerstly – do not. Should I said words of appologies to Poland ? It is never crossed my mind at all. Specifically after overturn of 90-th, when death rate in Russia exceed all records of peace time and population lost allmost everything. Russians is probably too much focus on families and they do not pay much attention on politics . Live in peace and do not touch me. And this is why too many idiots can have power here. Be carefull, but need to hate so much – I doubt.

As it said : there are certain pragmatic interests such as trade and development. All the rest – demagogic rubbish.

A "pro-russian" western european's opinion means very little to east and central europeans. Its very easy to love russia if your people where never its direct neighbor.

and for those that say america this, american wars around the world evil blah blah blah..... if the USSR was the last remaining super-power, you would not have an opinion, or a computer to view others opinions, or a car of your choice, a house you can afford, a coffee mug with a funny joke on it, coffee to put in it............

you would live and die in a factory or collective. and if there are actual rusophiles out there in western europe you have to wake up and thank the americans, british, polish, canadians and others who fought for western europe in the 40's. they saved you from the nazi's and made sure the soviets stayed as litle west as possible.

  • 89.
  • At 10:25 PM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • Slawek wrote:

I wish all those who post such friendly comments about Rusia could have Rusia as a neigbour for centuries. I tell you lets switch - Poles will go west and have USA as partner and all western countries move east and have as many lovely hugs with brothers Rusians as you wish. Still want to do it? You dont know what you are missing.
When it comes to II WW please remember wasnt it for US led invasion from sea and suplying Rusia with mass of food and arms through Murmansk not only Soviet Union would never exist but all western Europe would be german now. What you have now prosperity envied around the planet is thanks to huge US contribution (remember Marshal plan?). You know what Poland got insted of Maeshal plan? Rusian plan

  • 90.
  • At 05:17 AM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

* EuroSlav wrote: "... if the USSR was the last remaining super-power, you would not have an opinion, or a computer to view others opinions, or a car...thank the americans, british, polish, canadians and others who fought for western europe in the 40's. they saved you from the nazi's"

Wake UP! You live in the past. Where do you see USSR now? Nowadays Russia is a young capitalist country with booming economy and shops full of everything you'd expect in typical western supermarket. Russia today looks more like long forgotten since 1917 Russian Empire. The USA on the other hand is more and more like ex-USSR, just watch their TV foran hour.

As for "Americans etc who saved you from the nazi's". You may not like Russia, but may I remind you that Germany had 80% of all their troops fighting at Eastern theater and suffered about 90% of all causalities there.

  • 91.
  • At 06:37 AM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"Poles always had paranoya about Russia. They should just get on with it.It's 21 century, nobody going to divide or attack Poland again! Russia protecting its own interests and territory nowadays."[#85]


I suspect it would help cure this paranoia if present day Russia defined WHAT specifically constitutes its territory, which at present includes, e.g., Japanese Kuril Islands and part of Finnish Karelia, neither of which was "ceded" voluntarily. It might also alleviate tensions in the "near abroad" if president (soon premier) Putin and minister Lavrov stated clearly what are Kremlin's strategic plans for the area and what Russian troops are still doing in Moldova and Georgia.
[I won't even bother to mention an issue of Chechnya and Dagestan]

On the other hand I think that Russia's paranoia about nefarious plans of the West against it will be alleviated once it has to concentrate on CHINA's strategic plans for ITS "near abroad", particularly regarding former Chinese territories between Nahodka and Khabarovsk, currently part of Russian East Siberia.

  • 92.
  • At 06:52 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

* EuroSlav wrote:

"... if the USSR was the last remaining super-power, you would not have an opinion, or a computer to view others opinions, or a car...thank the americans, british, polish, canadians and others who fought for western europe in the 40's. they saved you from the nazi's"

Wake UP! You live in the past. Where do you see USSR now? Nowadays Russia is a young capitalist country with booming economy and shops full of everything you'd expect in typical western supermarket. Russia today looks more like long forgotten since 1917 Russian Empire. The USA on the other hand is more and more like ex-USSR, just watch their TV foran hour.

As for "Americans etc who saved you from the nazi's". You may not like Russia, but may I remind you that Germany had 80% of all their troops fighting at Eastern theater and suffered about 90% of all causalities there.

  • 93.
  • At 07:39 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

* EuroSlav wrote:

"... if the USSR was the last remaining super-power, you would not have an opinion, or a computer to view others opinions, or a car...thank the americans, british, polish, canadians and others who fought for western europe in the 40's. they saved you from the nazi's"

Wake UP! You live in the past. Where do you see USSR now? Nowadays Russia is a young capitalist country with booming economy and shops full of everything you'd expect in typical western supermarket. Russia today looks more like long forgotten since 1917 Russian Empire. The USA on the other hand is more and more like ex-USSR, just watch their TV foran hour.

As for "Americans etc who saved you from the nazi's". You may not like Russia, but may I remind you that Germany had 80% of all their troops fighting at Eastern theater and suffered about 90% of all causalities there.

  • 94.
  • At 08:36 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Jarek Pacek wrote:

to Richard #90. May I remind you that soviets entered WWII as Nazi Germany's ally? All their effort and casulties (as if Stalin cared about those) do not really reflect their will to liberate anyone from the nazis but merely an idea to takeover the countires defeated by the nazis plus couple of non-engaged ones (like the Baltic Republics). As far as "thanking the US" is concerned up to late 50's one could see russian troops allover Central Europe driving american Jeeps & trucks. You would hardly have USSR victory if not the US aid to Stalin indeed.
May I also remind you that for 1/2 of Europe the soviet victory was basically replacing 5-years german occupation with a 45-years soviet one? The russian concentration camps operated 20 more years than the german ones and although there were no gas chambers there, the temperatures were very much doing that job too. Last but not least, there were no nazi chancellors elected in the post-war Germany, while you actually have an ex-USSR KGB agent as a president in Russia now. That's really a strange way of leaving the past behind.

  • 95.
  • At 10:12 PM on 28 Oct 2007,
  • Marek wrote:

Just one thing. Polish europolitics and may be spcecially The Law and Justice politcs made so many to express that cold attitude for neighbourns of Poland ,German and Russia as a once again regret for all those harms which took place in the history of WWII. I can only explain this in one way. This is that Poland after 1945 was not the same Poland like today. It was Poland behind the Iron Curtain. After 1989, it has to pass 15 years,polish people could freely and sincere loudly say about harms for ruin of Warsaw, for Katyń. And may be this cry is specially directed to Russia, which has never made clear apology for killing 20 thousand officers in Katyn, Ostaszkow, Kozielsk where for instance Putin or former President Yelcyn could be present personally in such an event like commemoration of Katyn , just as an example.
May be this is that, it is really needed for Polish, for the start, to begin really open and equal dialog for the future aspects of cooperation on every fields, specially economy.

  • 96.
  • At 12:30 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • A Pole living abroad wrote:

To all those Russians who wrote here some words, especially to Dimitri: I don't think Poles hate Russia or Russian people. No, they don't. We Poles had been hating Russian government and most of all the communistic regime brought to Poland after WW II, which lasted for over 40 years bringing down the economy an putting the country to outskirts of Europe.
But we like Russian people. We're all Slavs with common mentality.

  • 97.
  • At 04:14 PM on 29 Oct 2007,
  • Michal wrote:

I wish that relationship between Russia and other Eastern European countries will become friendly and rational. However, I think it's very unfair to blame Poland for the current state and to demand that past should be forgotten because we live in 21st century after all.

We should remember our past this creates our identity (Do Scots ever forget English invasion?) and we should learn from our errors.
Unfortunately, Russian government do not want to learn anything from their past but rather tries to rewrite history again.

UK could see Putin's methods in a recent Litvinenko killing. Russia is a very difficult partner that respect
only the strongest. Does Europe want to follow the same values?

Poland, Ukraininan and German history is very difficult and full of pain and blood. We also made many evil things especially to Ukraine. But we managed to overcome this and say 'Sorry' to each other. Why Poland could talk to Germany, Ukraine and Lithuania but can't talk to Russia? Maybe it's something wrong with our eastern partner then?

The voices from the 'old Europe' that we should be more compliant toward Russia just because they are rich in oil and gas are very unwise. I whish that Russia will become fully democratic country but it won't happen if Europe will support current establishment with such alacrity.

Regards,
Michal

(and sorry for my poor english)

  • 98.
  • At 05:59 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Christina wrote:

“I suspect it would help cure this paranoia if present day Russia defined WHAT specifically constitutes its territory, which at present includes, e.g., Japanese Kuril Islands and part of Finnish Karelia, neither of which was "ceded" voluntarily. It might also alleviate tensions in the "near abroad" if president (soon premier) Putin and minister Lavrov stated clearly what are Kremlin's strategic plans for the area and what Russian troops are still doing in Moldova and Georgia.
[I won't even bother to mention an issue of Chechnya and Dagestan]”

To Mirek Kondracki

You forgot to give Kaliningrad to Poland and then create Greater Poland from the Baltic to the Black Sea (or would it be better to the Pacific Ocean). And after that we want our neighbors to take us seriously. Poor Poland.

  • 99.
  • At 08:16 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Andriy Sobol- UPA wrote:

To rob comment 69- Poland annexed Ukrainian Ethnic territory after the collapse of Danylo Halychana's Kingdom in 1336 (You get your history right!) The repression that followed is still largely unknown in Poland (hence your comment). Poles and Jews were gifted land there - hence mass settlement. Also hear of Akja Wisla?

Also Crimea was never Russian it too was conquered first by the Tartars, Turks then by Russia.

Just how far back do we want to go people? Look at Kosovo as a current day example

  • 100.
  • At 08:19 AM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • ZZ wrote:

I am Polish and I do not understand why we should make rows with Russia. I can’t say this openly in my country without being called a traitor. Hatred and intolerance devastate my country not Russians or Germans.

  • 101.
  • At 03:19 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Yes Mirek #91 I think it will be very funny when China develops Russian style rhetoric, and starts demanding things from Russia because of "Chinese sphere of influence"... maybe then Russia will start "needing" Europe again... but for now the old Polish joke comes to mind, styled after communist slogans, "The Polish - Chinese border on the Urals - A border for peace!" :)

  • 102.
  • At 06:57 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Ivi Tagata wrote:

If this continues, history will repeat itself. The Western powers will again give up Eastern European countries, one by one, to Russia in exchange for peace and business with them, while inviting their refugee writers and intellectuals to reside in Paris and London and revive their salons. Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czechs and the Slovaks continue to aggravate their position by hoping to find allies with the stronger countries of the West (Germany, France, Britain, US) while snapping at each other for ethnic or religious reasons, but will end up as colonies on both sides. Most people here seem to think Poland should have been 'grateful' for being occupied by Russia because it was 'liberated' from being occupied by Germany, as if the only possible existence for these lands was occupation and foreign rule. If Eastern Europe cannot make a common front, they will forever remain backwaters. I'm Romanian and I've travelled everywhere in East Europe only to hear that Czechs are in 'Central Europe' or that Poles are more Western (and therefore superior) than Ukrainians or Romanians or such loads of rubbish. The West have no cultural or political respect for East Europe, and neither do the Russians. It is high time that East Europeans put aside their differences and seek their own interests.

  • 103.
  • At 03:13 AM on 01 Nov 2007,
  • Thomas from Canada wrote:

# 92 A Pole living abroad said: "We are all Slavs with common mentality"
How true. Slavs count about 300 million of total population not counting the ones abroad. They all come from one original source somewhere around Belarus and Northern Ukraine about 600AD. Their languages are so close that one can travel through the 12 Slavic Countries + Bulgaria not needing a translator provided one knows at least one of those languages.
Their differences of today can be atributed to history. But even with their cultural and historical differencess they have a lot in common and yet they will go on disunited and an easy target to manipulation and influence of other cultures. Why? What separates the Bosnian Moslem from the Bosnian Serb? Religion. They in fact speak the same language. And what separates them from a Croat? Religion again. Yet A Croat speaks the same language. So what separates a Pole from a Russian? Religion and in this case the language also but not to the extent that they could not speak to each other. I can understand the Baltics for their hostility to Russia even though Russia has been infused by Nordics in their early days but I can't understand the Czechs or the Poles.
I guess it is the nature of Democracy to need the security of homogenity and common history a shared pain, a shared mythology and aspirations. Perhaps this is the reason for their fragmentation. What a shame. Just think what they could be united. Just look at the English speaking World. Their laws, their educational system, their economy and their foreign policy with some exceptions is almost identical. Most of all they stick together and manage to manipulate other nations with impunity.

  • 104.
  • At 12:59 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

To Andriy # 99. Yes most of Ukraine was first Ukrainian then Polish, but not all of it.

The area of Lvov was only conquered by Kievan Rus for a while, then regained by Poland, and now lost again by Poland.

You are correct on most of the rest of Ukraine.

Plus keep in mind that the Kievan Rus state, a precursor claimed by Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, was conquering and expanding territories towards Poland... one reason the Polish state came into existence. The tribes of Poland unified to oppose on one hand the Germans and the Rus expansion on the other.

Look up the tribe Polane, and see how they ended up getting split. One half went to be the dominant group in the creation of Poland, the other ended up in Ukraine.

As for who did what to whom, I am sure you know what UPA stands for. Or how Ukrainians were exterminating Jews and Poles during various uprisings. Nobody is blameless here.

  • 105.
  • At 06:43 AM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

I think it will be very funny when China develops Russian style rhetoric, and starts demanding things from Russia because of "Chinese sphere of influence"... maybe then Russia will start "needing" Europe again... but for now the old Polish joke comes to mind, styled after communist slogans, "The Polish - Chinese border on the Urals - A border for peace!" :) (Rob, #101).

The last time when Russia "needed" Europe was in the late 60s, when during the territorial Sino-Soviet clashes on Ussuri Kremlin leadership suddenly started to talk about a need for a "white race solidarity" [sic]. Since then Chinese (mostly Manchurs) haven't bothered to use any anti-Russian rhetoric again, but like in that battery commercial, simply keep going... and going... and going...

[You can defeat a country, but you can't beat demographics.]

  • 106.
  • At 09:19 AM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Andriy Sobol- UPA wrote:

Rob 104# They were freedom fighters who fought first against the Nazis then the Polish Home Army and the Soviets. The whole mess along the border between Ukraine and Poland after WW2 has never really been investigated properly. By the way UPA had Jewish members and non-Ukrainians too, including Poles (they even saved quite a number of Jews in Lviv)too. Both sides did bad things to each other. My Grandfather grew up always being mocked by Poles and goated that 'Ukraina ne bude'. They had no shoes to wear and were forced to learn Polish (Never in history was it the other way around, same with the Russians) Maybe this is a reason why brutalities flared? The perception that they were fascists is based on 60 years of Soviet Propaganda, much like the Katyn denial and Ukrainian famine (Holodomor) which killed approx 7-10 Ukrainian peasants (again this figure will never be known). BTW 75 Anniversary in November 15th.

I couldn't agree more with other comments- we are all slavs and should respect each other. Get a Pole, Ukie , Croat etc together and probably you'll have a good time (headache too!) My best friends are Polish and Russian and Ukrainian- No, I'm not dreaming. One day, not in our lifetime the world will be one.

  • 107.
  • At 10:18 AM on 07 Nov 2007,
  • oleg shvets wrote:

Its really interesting to get to know how exactly Poland benefited from becoming member of the EU and so hostile to Russia! If we put aside historical tensions which were taking place for the last 800 years, where Russians may have almost as many grudges as pols do, Polish Government is willing to sucrifice its nowadays economical benefits from trading with huge and reach neighbor just to have a chance to express its hostility to Russia outloud, of coarse always looking back at their great supporter across the Ocean. Meanwhile many Polish people have to leave their country to make couple bucks in slave labor to support their families back home.

  • 108.
  • At 06:48 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Andriy #106 individual people talk insulting nonsense in a conflict. Both ways.

Keep in mind that the times we are talking about was a Poland of a few decades old, after centuries of foreign occupation when the country did not exist... Poland tried to grab what territory it could from what used to belong to it before the Partitions... none of the surrounding countries were going to give it back. Poland had to deal with demographic changes from the partitions, the movement of different nationalities during when it was occupied. It is a shame that Poland and Ukraine had to fight at the time instead of settling their differences through negotiation. If Poland and Ukraine had managed to agree, history would have turned out very differently for both... together, the two are probably more powerful than Russia.

I can assure you I, and probably all other Poles these days recognise that Ukraine is a country and has a right to exist.

The same mistake between Ukraine and Poland had been made repeatedly in the past, and the enemies of both took the advantage of it.

If during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine was give equal rights as a third member of the union, again history would have turned out differently. There would have been no Partitions of the Commonwealth, and Ukraine would have had an independent country without Russian domination a few hundred years back. By the time the Commonwealth worked out this mistake, agreed to give Ukraine equal rights, it was too late for it, and it got over-run by its enemies (the reforms were never implemented).

The problem was that Poland or the Commonwealth was run by a bunch of magnates and gentry (panowie). The Ukraine was mostly peasant, with some Cossacks as the elite. There was no way those people would recognise peasants. The peasants in Poland itself were treated as badly, but Polish identity at the time is associated with the "panowie". As a Pole I hate the magnates and the aristocracy for their incompetence and sometimes outright treason in the way they ran down a country that was at one time heading for a dominant role in Europe and perhaps the world.

There is a lesson there for every powerful country run by special interest groups, or aritocracies of any kind... the power of the country is not going to last if the decisions are made to benefit a few individuals.

As for we are all Slavs argument, well... yes, it is true. However, it had been used in the past by some groups to justify the taking over of one Slav country by another, because that country claimed to represent all Slavs.

On an individual level I do feel kinship to Czechs, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Slovenians, Macedonians, Belarussians... I do not trust the Russians as a nation... I am sorry. Plus I remember the adopted members of the family, the Jews (need a Jew to ran the local pub and serve the vodka for example while giving advice), the Lithuanians (that was a a very good union with Poland), or even the Muslim Tatars that settled in the Commonwealth and fought on the same side with it for like 600 years (they are still there).

For now, rather than try for some Slavic union that Russia or somebody else will try to take over, let's get Ukraine, Serbia, and Macedonia into the EU. After that happens, let's see how Russia and Belarus behave.

  • 109.
  • At 10:16 AM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

... oops. Let's get Croatia into the EU too. I thought Croatia's entry was settled, but I was thinking of NATO membership. Croatia is still an EU candidate.

  • 110.
  • At 08:58 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

I am American of Polish (And proud of it.) as well as Rheinland-Pfälzische German-Jew (And proud of it too, as I was born there.) mixed ancestry. The mix of German-Jew and Catholic Pole made me a Methodist! ;)
Not much I can do about all of Europe (With the exception of Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Albania) hating America except remind them what would have happened had we NOT been there for WW1, WW2 and the Cold War. I understand why Poles hate the Russians-EVERYONE hates the Russians simply by their behavior in lands they occupied (Think Berlin in May of 1945.). The Russians had their way with US President Roosevelt before the war ended-so much though that the Russians got German Generals to dangle from the gallows in blame for the Katyn Massacre of Polish Officers at the Nürnberg Trials, as well as having Eastern Europe handed to them. If the Russians, who have always denied Katyn, are tired of being thought badly of, perhaps it is time for them to confess their sins against Poland and what happened at Katyn, saying "Yes, we did it, and we are eternally sorry!"
Perhaps then reconciliation can begin for Russia and the rest of Europe.

Na Polska!

Bill

  • 111.
  • At 02:20 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"I don't think that Poles hate the Russian people at all. They fear their government and its policies and with a history like that, who can blame them." [#52]


But since, as a result of a free, level-playing field election process president's Putin's democratic regime is about to be replaced by even more democratic premier Putin's government and KGB officers who have permeated it are to be replaced by FSB officers - neither Poland, nor Georgia, nor any other Russia's neighbour will have any reason to fear Moscow any more, won't you agree?

  • 112.
  • At 09:39 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"I don't think that Poles hate the Russian people at all. They fear their government and its policies and with a history like that, who can blame them." [#52]


But since, as a result of a free, level-playing field election process president's Putin's democratic regime is about to be replaced by even more democratic premier Putin's government and KGB officers who have permeated it are to be replaced by FSB officers - neither Poland, nor Georgia, nor any other Russia's neighbour will have any reason to fear Moscow any more, won't you agree?

  • 113.
  • At 02:37 PM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Thomas from Canada wrote:

Slovaks have a great saying:
"Ako sa do hory vola tak sa z hory ozyva" ( The way you call into the mountain is the way the echo will sound). I am sure the Poles have an equivalent saying.
And prudence would dictate good neighborlyness and put history to history.
Here in Canada we accept the fact that our independence and well being will last only as long as our good neighborlyness to our only neighbor will last.

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