Skip to comments.Poland's fear of 'the Russian Bear'
Posted on 03/05/2014 11:51:23 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Poland, which borders Russia and Ukraine, played an active role in the deal that ended the violent conflict in Ukraine. But this time, Poland's shot at successfully mediating between its neighbors is slim, experts say.
Poland's increasing anxiety over the situation in neighboring Ukraine became evident as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned that the world "stands on the brink of a conflict" that would affect states everywhere. The consequences could be dire, and a matter of survival for his country, the Prime Minister told reporters on Sunday in Warsaw.
Poland, which borders the Russian exclave Kaliningrad in the north and shares more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of border with Ukraine in the southeast, is arguably the EU member state most vulnerable to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Poland and Ukraine share more than a border, though; they also look back at similar experiences in the past. Both states were used as pawns in international politics, and both were always positioned between Russia and the West. The two countries' borders have been repeatedly redrawn. Entire ethnic groups were expelled from each of the two nations.
At the time of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine about ten years ago, Poland acted as mediator between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, with the aim of calling new presidential elections following the manipulated polls in 2004. In close cooperation with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, then Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski held numerous talks in Kyiv that helped deescalate the tense situation.
More recently, Poland, along with Germany and France, had a role in brokering the deal that ended the violent conflict on the Maidan and led to Yanukovych's ouster. The agreement brokered by Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and their Polish colleague Radoslaw Sikorski was short-lived: just a few hours later, Yanukovych was ousted and had vanished to Russia.
But Poland is less qualified to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, says Otfried Nassauer, head of the Berlin-based Information Center for Transatlantic Security (BITS). "Poland can play a productive role in cooperation with France and Germany, but Polish domestic considerations limit its capacity to conduct an exclusive, rational political mediation," Nassauer told DW. The Polish government must always represent the anti-Russian positions in the country as well, the analyst says, so as not to come under domestic pressure.
"Traditionally, Polish security policies are strongly oriented towards the US," Nassauer says. "Poland constantly tries to underline its special relationship with Washington." That goes hand-in-hand with a defensive attitude towards Moscow, Nassauer adds, noting the presence of latent fears "that the Russian bear could regain its strength once again."
Not Putin's last step
Within the EU, Poland often spoke up for Russian interests, says Marcin Zaborowski, director of the Polish Institute of International Afairs (PISM). "Poland is strongly supporting the visa liberalization for Russian citizens," Zaborowski told DW.
Such support may soon be a thing of the past. Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski took a harsh stance at an EU Foreign Ministers meeting on Monday. "The EU is saying that it will revise its relations with Russia if there is no de-escalation," he told reporters after the meeting.
Poland must "respond to these unprovoked acts of aggression towards our other direct neighbor," Zaborowski says. "We think it's in breach of international rules of law."
The political scientist also urged the international community not to stand by and do nothing. Putin will go as far as they let him, Zaborowski warns: "If his behavior goes unchecked by a response on an economic, political or diplomatic level, my guess is he will not stop with the takeover of Crimea."
Right now, what Poland needs is Marshall Pilsudski.
I am not getting the impression that this administration gives two hoots about Poland. This administration is partying like it was 1928. They are so gay about their accomplishments.
“Zaborowski warns: “If his behavior goes unchecked by a response on an economic, political or diplomatic level, my guess is he will not stop with the takeover of Crimea.””
The Poles have a good understanding of Putin in particular and of Russians in general. My Father was born at the beginning of WWI, one hundred years ago and were he alive today, he would believe we are on the brink of WWIII. He expected the worst of Europe and Russia but was a great optimist on America. He would be amazed and disgusted that we have elected a Marxist antiAmerican.
Or a Danizg plebiscite.
Have the Poles not heard that Bush is no longer in the White House?
My grandmother came from the Kaliningrad area when it was East Prussia (German). My grandfather was in the Prussian navy and didn’t like the political direction Bismark was going, so they came to the US.
The today's result would be favourable for Poland. No Germans are there anymore.
After WW2 Pomerania and Gdansk(former Danzig) is majority pole not German so a plebescite would keep it Polish, not vote to rejoin Germany.
Rome burns as cesar cuddles with reggie love
Last I read the Russian Army was in bad shape. When was the last time the Russians heard a shot fired in anger? The Poles have been with us in Astan.
The US military has been in the field forever and is highly trained. It’s a card that a true leader would remind our foes about.
Poland needs to take care about it own interests instead to play a role of self-proclaimed front soldier of the EU. If Ukrainians cannot agree with each other let them pay the price. How Crimea is worse than Kosovo? Putin isn’t an idiot, he knows that so called “west” stand for “democracy” only if will of majority is in full agreement with their political goals.
“How Crimea is worse than Kosovo?”
Kosovo = local governance by Kosovo elected representatives.
Crimea = foreign governance by Russian-appointed politicians.
I doubt that results of the next general elections in Ukraine or local elections in Crimea would satisfy “worldwide democratic forces” Third Ukrainian revolution is undergoing.
Maybe it’s like Iraq -a self cleaning oven. The hot heads, criminals and control freaks will knock each other off until all that’s left is a weak, unobtrusive federal state with elected representatives.
“Its a card that a true leader would remind our foes about.”
That will happen when pigs learn to fly. We don’t have a true leader.
Many came from what is now Western Ukraine, after the Majority Poles were kicked out of that region.
You wouldn’t be nervous if Russian troops were stationed in Lwow?
It’s time for Oboma to don his mom jeans and “gird his loins” to face down Putin.
Hardly possible in near future, beside of that their troops station in Kaliningrad oblast (2h from my home). There is nothing we can do about it.