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Putin wants Poland to invade Ukraine Russia has found itself trapped by history

US soldiers deploy to Poland (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

US soldiers deploy to Poland (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)


August 31, 2022   5 mins

Six months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland has arguably become the war-torn country’s most ardent ally on the European continent. By some measures, it has committed more military assistance to Ukraine than any other country besides the United States, and has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than any nation in the world. During Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit to Kyiv in late May, Volodymyr Zelenskyy called his Polish counterpart his “friend and brother”.

It seems jarring, then, to hear Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propagandists claim that according to their latest intelligence, Poland is secretly planning to invade and annex the territories in western Ukraine that it used to control prior to the Second World War. Yet this is exactly the narrative that members of Putin’s inner circle like Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev have been pushing for months, buoyed by support from state-backed Russian media over the past few weeks.

Pro-Kremlin actors have gone to great lengths to support this claim. A supposed order signed by a Polish general authorising Polish troops to enter Ukraine’s Lviv and Volyn oblasts was recently circulated on social media before being confirmed to be a forgery, and propagandists like Patrushev have jumped on cherry-picked comments from Duda, who stated in May that “there will not be a border” between Poland and Ukraine. On August 23, the press director for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs went as far as to compare Duda to Hitler because of his comments on Polish business ventures in Ukraine.

In reality, however, Duda was quoting Zelenskyy himself back in May, and was speaking about prospects for increased cooperation and strengthened diplomatic ties between the two countries. A few weeks later, Zelenskyy revealed that Ukraine was set to grant Poles “special legal status” in Ukraine in response to Poland’s embrace of Ukrainian refugees, and the two countries agreed on joint customs control at their border to facilitate the movement of people and goods between them.

With all this in mind, it’s hard to imagine that the Kremlin earnestly believes its own rhetoric on Poland’s supposed plans to invade Ukraine. Its frequently repeated talking points on this front are best understood as a multi-pronged propaganda effort aimed at the Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish publics that seeks to further justify Russian aggression in Ukraine and to sow discord between Kyiv and its new allies in Warsaw.

But even though such propaganda might seem easily disprovable amid the ever-growing labyrinth of Russian disinformation about Ukraine, the fact that the Kremlin is pursuing it tells us a great deal about how Putin sees the war, nationhood in Eastern Europe, and the nature of international relations in the region itself. In his view, politics in the region have remained fundamentally unchanged since the Thirties and Forties. For him, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians and all peoples of the former Soviet sphere continue to be motivated by nationalistic desires of revenge and irredentism that can be exploited for the benefit of world powers like Russia. Yet this attempt to rouse century-old passions is doomed to fail, and by continuing to employ the political logic of a bygone era, Putin has revealed just how out of touch Russia’s foreign policy is with the realities of the 21st century.

The history that Putin’s confidantes are riffing on when spreading claims of Polish invasion plans comes from the interwar period, when the newly independent Polish state controlled territory in modern Ukraine, including the oblasts of Lviv, Lutsk, and Ivano-Frankivsk. Poland had acquired some of these lands during the chaotic period following the First World War under the leadership of Polish general and statesman Józef PiƂsudski, who envisioned a return to Poland’s glory days prior to its dismemberment by Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1795.

In the Ukrainian territories, Polish authorities’ heavy-handed response to local Ukrainian demands for autonomy led to the foundation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which, after Poland’s defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany, launched a series of massacres in 1943 that resulted in the deaths of up 100,000 Polish civilians. In 1945, Poland lost these lands to the USSR, and they have remained part of independent Ukraine since 1991.

The UPA’s killings of Poles during the war, which Poland considers to be an act of genocide, remain a contentious issue, and Duda has requested that Ukraine recognise it as such as recently as this July during an official commemoration. But unfortunately for Putin, Poland has regarded the territorial disputes that lay behind the violence as a closed case for decades. As Duda stated at this year’s memorial for the victims of the wartime massacres, the recognition of the UPA’s massacres “was not about and is not about revenge, about any retaliation — there is no better proof of this than the time we have now”.

According to recent polls, Ukrainians are now inclined to trust Poland more than ever — some 86% of Ukrainians from all regions of the country reported that their view of Poland has improved since the start of Russia’s invasion, with 72% stating their opinion has “improved a lot”. And in an environment where both the Polish and Ukrainian populations are now overwhelmingly wary of Russian propaganda, disinformation about Polish plans to regain its Ukrainian territories is unlikely to spur a nationalistic falling-out over either the legacy of the UPA or Poland’s territorial legacy in western Ukraine.

But there is another, broader aim of Putin’s propaganda effort on this matter: if Russia can claim that Poland and other European states are covetous of other countries’ land, then Russia can do it too. “The thing is that there are quite a few locations on the European continent where neighbours are silently interested in the territories of adjacent states,” Naryshkin stated earlier this month, according to Russian state media agency TASS. “So if Poland opens this Pandora’s box, there will be hell to pay.”

This is the central, if implicit, assertion that Putin and his loyalists are making when they spread lies about Poland’s intentions — that Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine is far from abnormal. It is difficult to read Naryshkin’s quote here without recalling Putin’s own characterisation of his invasion of Ukraine as “our responsibility to return land” back to Russia during a conference in June, where the Russian president seemed to compare himself to Tsar Peter the Great.

Even if the Poles do not have plans to recapture their lost territories in Ukraine, Putin is certain they would eventually like to do so — after all, why wouldn’t they? In Putin’s worldview, it is only natural for nations to seek to regain past glory like PiƂsudski had, either by conquering land from other states, outmanoeuvring neighbours, or settling scores over unresolved grievances. By the same token, for countries like Ukraine, a historic enemy must always be an enemy, and blood that was once spilled can always be spilled again.

For Putin, international politics is a zero-sum game in which one power ultimately seeks to dominate others. In pursuing their disinformation campaign about Poland, Putin and the rest of the Kremlin are projecting their own worldview onto neighbouring countries, assuming that the nationalistic triggers that motivated violence between Poles, Ukrainians and various other Eastern European peoples remain as potent now as they did in 1943.

But the ship of history has long sailed in both the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands and across much of Europe, and Russia’s leaders have seemingly been left behind. Only now are they waking up to the reality that common defence can actually work, and that countries that were once the bitterest of enemies can look beyond their past to stand up to cynically nationalistic, unilateralist powers of the sort that the Russian state has now become. In seeking to exploit the wounds of history, Russia has found itself trapped by it.


Michal Kranz is a freelance journalist reporting on politics and society in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the United States.

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Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

I’m skeptical that national borders can ever be irrevocably fixed. Demographic, cultural, technological and economic shifts will always test the defined limits of the worlds states. These will inevitably bring about the potential for conflict between nations as sources of legitimacy are strengthened and weakened by the flow of these and many other factors. The fact that Poles and Ukrainians have fought in the past but are now allied against a common foe, is evidence of the continuing transitory nature of history, not it’s cession.

Ultimately, the right to land, once we reach the largest levels of human organisation, national or even imperial (I would contend empires still do exist even if the term has fallen into disrepute); depend on the ability to defend that land from counter claims to exert sovereignty over it. This does not mean that land cannot be defended with the aid of alliances or aggressive attempts at domination shouldn’t be resisted. However, though some find this position morally distasteful, preferring to retreat into the idealism of international law, the answer to the question “Who watches the watchmen” remains – nobody does, and ultimately, nobody can. The watchmen must forever watch each other and the law is only ever legitimate in as far as it can be enforced. At the highest level freedom depends on the ability to defend itself. There is nothing wrong with desiring peace whilst acknowledging that conflict will always remain a possibility.

Far from being trapped by history, Russia still acknowledges the reality of the world, it is still a “historic” nation, in which conflict is a viewed as a viable means of pursuing its interests. The view espoused in this article, that the West can inhabit some post-historical homeostasis, in which national rivalries are a thing of the past, may be desirable but it does not make it true and I would argue is in fact harmful. It is the very delusion which has lead to military budgets to be slashed and strategic resources to be sacrificed to hostile rivals due to the chimeric idea of a post conflict world and has ultimately enabled the Russian invasion.

The price of freedom remains that of eternal vigilance; not in seeking to make eternal the borders of the post war world.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Exactly.

julia diamond
julia diamond
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Disregard 75 years of peace in Europe and your argument is flawless.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago
Reply to  julia diamond

75 years financed and enabled by American firepower – which was
also being put to use (offensively) elsewhere, let’s not forget. Also, do Yugoslavia, Georgia and Armenia not count as Europe to you? Some might quibble about the Caucasus, but Ukraine certainly isn’t closer than the Balkans at the least.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

Precisely. As you say, Western European peace has been bought with American military might and yet some remain convinced that 75 years of peace is due to their high-flown rhetoric and not this.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Peace between the West and Russia was of course copper-fastened by the Americans.
But peace between the Western European nations themselves – Britain, France, Germany, Italy especially – has largely been a by product of being in the EU together – the EU provides a dull trading forum wherein relationships are constantly mended. 
Quite apart from its economic aspects, the EU has been a means of keeping people closer than they otherwise would have been. 
Economic nationalism – tariffs – nationalist rhetoric – hostility- conflict – is an obvious trajectory.  
So there are those 2 aspects to peace in Europe.
Of course, most Unherdians are in the Church of Brexit and the EU is their anti-Christ, so they will disagree vociferously that the EU could never possibly have had any good aspects lol They’re so sensitive, it is rather fun triggering them though; almost as easy as triggering middle-aged white men by saying the Greta word lol

RJ Kent
RJ Kent
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

LOL. Thank you for your contribution to immature debate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  M Lux

From 1945 to 1989 it was really an undeclared. We were all living with the threat of a nuclear war (which we almost got on at least one occasion). In the meantime the West and East fought proxy wars across the globe which likely had a total death toll of an order of magnitude not dissimilar to WW2
In the 1990’s there was, of course, the Balkans

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  julia diamond

If you ignore the bitter civil war between Ukraine and the hapless Poles forced into the USSR, then very peaceful. It lasted till 1949.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  julia diamond

Does the phrase “nuclear umbrella” ring any bells?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  julia diamond

…yes: apart from the lunatic fringes that are Serbia and Ukraine. But there was the 56 Hungarian uprising and the Prague spring..
So maybe we should say “Relative Peace”?

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Actually, since the dissolution of the USSR, Poland and Ukraine seem to have gotten along quite well. For example, in western Ukraine, about 15 miles north of L’viv, is a town called ƻóƂkiew, which contains the historic St. Lawrence church. A vertitable pantheon to Poland’s military golden age, it shelters numerous battle mementos plus the graves of ƻóƂkiewski, the town’s founder, and other Polish military heroes.  After the Soviets abused this elegant structure as a warehouse, it’s been restored with Polish funds. That’s how important it is to the Poles, even though ƻóƂkiew is now inside Ukraine.  This is why I think the author’s thesis has merit.

Victor Whisky
Victor Whisky
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

General Pilsudski had a motto, “Z’morze do Morze”, meaning from Sea to Sea. He envisioned a greater Poland from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, which of course would incompass parts of Ukraine. Present day Lviv, or as the Poles called Lvov and the Austro Hungarians called Lemberg when they occupied it, had always been cherished by Poland. Ukrainians have the unfortunate luck of occupying the most fertile and cherished land in the world. Everyone wants it. Having battled for independence for centuries from various invaders, it was not until the USSR collapsed and Ukraine had lasting independence.
The recent war and masses seeking refuge in Poand, found some poles with distain as they remember the cruel genocides committed against Poles living in Western Ukraine, most having settled there at the urging of the Polish government as it occupied all of western Ukraine. When the second world war broke out, one faction of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, led by Bandera, decided to rid Ukraine of Polish settlers. Rather than chase them out, he had a quick solution, annihilate them. Many Polish civilians were murdered, including women and children by this gang, even Ukrainians who provided shelter to the Poles were not spared. My mother was Roman Catholic (Polish), she was taken for forced labor in Germany. She left behind her mother and five sisters. After the war they were nowhere to be found, she came to the realization they were slaughtered by the Bandera faction. For the longest period of time after that war, Poles and Ukrainians considered themselves to be enemies. To think the present war will quickly heal old wounds is wishful thinking and to think Poland would not desire to regain its old glory, taking Lviv from a weakened Ukraine is delusional.
When Ukraine did gain its independence from Russia, it was the world’s third largest nuclear power. It was the US, who preferred to get in bed with Boris Yeltsin the drunk as there was more money to be made there, abided by his wishes and strong armed Ukraine into giving up not only its entire nuclear arsenal, but a fleet of supersonic nuclear capable bombers. This was the biggest treachery committed against Ukraine. For the motive of huge profits, the US had cut off Ukraine’s balls.
The Maidan coup and Ukraine’s ten year civil war was incited and funded by the US, and engineered by Victoria Neuland with the aid of Ukrainian oligarchs like Kolomoisky who raised his own private army, sort of like Hitler and his Brown Shirts. The irony is that Kolomoisky is a zionist and his army is made up of the most right wing, fascist leaning Ukrainians you can find, the Azov Brigade. Eventually this Brigade, like the Brown Shirts in Germany, was incorporated into the Ukrainian national army. It is the Azov brigade that happens to be the most battle hardened, the bravest and most experienced, that is into the thick of battle, facing massive Russian artillery assaults. Some have speculated and one can only wonder, are the Zionist, Victoria Neuland, Anthony Blinken, Kolomoisky and company, sacrificing the Azov brigade as a batering ram against Russia and have them fight to the last man so as to weaken or eliminate a large pro fascist military element…sort of killing two birds with one stone.
As we have seen in history, during wars, nations secretly agree to partition and divide others territories. Perhaps, it is in the cards to weaken, and split up Ukraine? If they wanted to keep Ukraine whole, they would have negotiated a peace settlement a long time ago, unless they are itching for an all out nuclear world war, which would be lunacy.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
1 year ago
Reply to  Victor Whisky

Maidan coup? Seriously?

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

I really don’t think Putin in stuck in the past. I think he is just desperate to find some sort of justification for his action.
Don’t let’s forget that the initial justification was a special operation to cleanse Ukraine of ‘n@zis’ who were committing atrocities against Russian speaking Ukranians.
We have then heard that the problem is Ukraine wanting to join NATO, that Ukraine is really Russian, that the Russian empire should be revived. Now we discover it’s all about the Polish invasion.
I don’t think anybody believes a word of what comes out of Russia any more. It’s like the reports of the bumper grain harvests back in the cold war.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
1 year ago

Even if the propaganda was not easily disprovable, the idea that an EU country would 1) invade its neighbour and/or 2) remain an EU country is ludicrous.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Many Americans thought the same about Hitler in the late 1930’s.

William Adams
William Adams
1 year ago

I look forward to the day when China takes a chunk of Russia’s far east. They have historical claims to much of Siberia and Russia will discover that they aren’t such good friends after all.

David Yetter
David Yetter
1 year ago
Reply to  William Adams

If at that time, Russia is still led by a revanchist fascist government, the comeuppance would be delightful. However, I do not look actually forward to that day, because it would mean the establishment of, presumably still-fascist-but-calling-itself-communist, China as world hegemon, something none of us in the Anglosphere should wish for.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  William Adams

Indeed: they are close buddies now but I’m reminded of *Charles Haughey’s advice: “Keep your friends close: keep your enemies closer”!
*Ireland’s former PM (Taoiseach)..

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

And the most reviled?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Nationalism has not gone away but has in many cases altered its form. Putin displays a National Socialist type of nationalism. He seeks lebensraum for his Russian people and the resources of oil, grain and ports possessed by Ukrainian people.

Another nationalism is that of the English political elite who seek to boost immigration to increase the countries GDP and their own wealth at the expense of their countries GDP per capita instead of investing in robotics to increase GDP per capita.

At least when the US called for the poor and huddled masses yearning to be free to come they had plenty of lebensraum through the seizure of Indian and unoccupied lands. The UK is not in that happy position.

Richard Maslen
Richard Maslen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and many other ‘conquered’ countries were not vacant when Europe arrived. We took it by force. At least the UK has retired gracefully. That is Putin’s problem and Ukraine’s burden.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Maslen

…”gracefully”? Really? mmmm

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“He seeks lebensraum for his Russian people and the resources of oil, grain and ports possessed by Ukrainian people.”
That doesn’t make much sense. Your use of the Lebensraum trope is inapt because Hitler, being painfully aware of the starvation caused by the British blockade during WWI, wanted food security for a growing Germany by conquering Ukraine. Russia on the other hand has a shrinking population, and before long will be incapable of undertaking more foreign adventures. It also has far more oil and grain than it can use, so it exports both. The only valid point here may be ports; obviously Putin would like more of those that don’t freeze over, but if he had held his horses and kept the peace, that could have been arranged.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

“And in an environment where both the Polish and Ukrainian populations are now overwhelmingly wary of Russian propaganda…”
I can only hope that all populations will become overwhelmingly wary of propaganda, which is so easily spread these days within seconds by some traditionally trusted sources.

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I have never heard the prominent American wife of fmr Polish Foreign Secretary Radoslaw Sikorski ever comment on his revelation about Putin’s offer in 2008 to split Ukraine between Russia and Poland.
It’s a bit odd, seeing as she’s a leading journalist at the Washington Post and NY Times.
Who she?
Anne Applebaum, former Bilderberg representative for Poland.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave X

Is there such a post as “Bilderberg representative”?

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago

Michal Kranz — how could you write this article and not mention Putin’s secret offer to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in 2008 to split Ukraine between them?

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago

In 2008 Putin invited the then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to join him in dismembering Ukraine. Tusk kept the offer top secret. As did his Foreign Secretary Radoslaw Sikorski … until he blabbed about it in 2014 when he thought he was talking off the record to Ben Judah of Politico.
Tusk derided the public warnings by “Populist” Polish President Lech Kaczynski that Putin intended to invade Ukraine.
President Kaczynski was blown up in the Polish presidential plane as it came into land in Russia in 2010. UK Ministry of Defense scientists found dozens of pieces of crash debris covered with soot from the detonation of RDX high explosives.
Tusk’s investigation ruled pilot error.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

To those on this forum who disagree with the article’s views on how national borders are no longer relevant – would you fight for your country to claim territory based on nationalist goals?

I certainly wouldn’t.

Lisa I
Lisa I
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I wouldn’t, but the military don’t have a say in where they are deployed

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

The common bitterness over the history with the (Russian dominated) USSR is the over-riding reason for the fellow feeling in Eastern Europe. It will be another generation before anyone really forgets.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Let us not forget that Poland was quite happy to help itself to a slice of Czechoslovakia in 1938, post Munich.

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago

The part the Czechs had seized by military force after WWI when the Poles were fighting against the Red Army at the gates of Warsaw!!
Funny how you missed that but out.

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave X

“bit”

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave X

You could have ‘edited’ it, button to the lower right.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave X

Poland had ceased to exist since 1795, so that it all rather academic isn’t it?
In fact bar for the Imperial German Army and the redoubtable Max Hoffman, Poland would have remained a mere geographical expression would it not?

Dave X
Dave X
1 year ago

There were many factors involved. French support was absolutely vital in stopping the German military after WWI. The Germans were totally committed to retaking western Poland and had British and Bolshevik backing.
That said, the Poles under Pilsudski really went for it and got lucky.
And you have to hand it to Hoover too — he prevented mass famine.

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
1 year ago

This ignores the fact the Poles spent the entire 19th century fighting to reverse the dismemberment of their country – unparallelled in European history for such a large and ancient kingdom to be eliminated – and were waiting for any attempt to take advantage of a situation to do just that.

Do you really imagine by turn of fate that if France, or Spain or Sweden or Denmark had been divided among the enemies the peoples of said kingdoms would have contently regarded themselves as vanished entities and thrown away their culture and political ambitions?

And what a great thing it was that they did, the restoration of one of Europe’s great Catholic nations, going back to 10th century, throwing of the rule of Asiatic barbarian Steppe upstarts and heretics from Moscow tutored by Ghenghis Khan and the ending of a great historical crime.

I merely would add the words of the great G. K. Chesterton:

“I judged the Poles by their enemies. And I found it was an almost unfailing truth that their enemies were the enemies of magnanimity and manhood. If a man loved slavery, if he loved usury, if he loved terrorism and all the trampled mire of materialistic politics, I have always found that he added to these affections the passion of a hatred of Poland. She could be judged in the light of that hatred; and the judgment has proved to be right.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Sam Sky
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Sky

What about the Visigothic Kingdom, eliminated in the 8th century?

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
1 year ago

I am not sure that is equivalent, because a fragment of that kingdom, that formed the germ of what became the reconquista survived in Asturias.
And at the same time doesn’t that prove my point? Spain self-consciously identifies itself with the continuity of the Visigothic kingdom – there are statues of the Visigothic kings in the gardens of the royal palace in Madrid – and it was that memory that sustained 781 years of war to rebuild a unified Spanish home. If after 700 years the cause of recuperation of their homeland can inspire such a long struggle, isn’t the 120 years of Polish statelessness a mere blip?

Last edited 1 year ago by Sam Sky
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Sky

I used the example of the Visigothic Kingdom to challenge your somewhat sweeping stating statement: “unparalleled in European history for such a large and ancient kingdom to be eliminated”. Kingdoms/Empires large and small have risen and fallen throughout European history have they not?

I think you are trying to make a case for Polish exceptionalism, which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny whatever you or indeed Chesterton may claim. Frankly for much of its brief history the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was chaotic shambles, exacerbated by its selfish and ultimately suicidal behaviour of its so called nobility. In a word it deserved to fail, and did.

As to your optimistic proposition that say France (amongst others) “would have contently regarded ‘itself’ as vanished ‘entity’ and thrown away its culture and political ambition’s?” Isn’t that precisely what they did in 1940?
And had it not been for the US it would probably have remained a supine province of the Third Reich?

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Pretty much sums up most European nations up to the 17th C. Just fill in the blank:
“Frankly for much of its brief history ——– was chaotic shambles, exacerbated by its selfish and ultimately suicidal behaviour of its so called nobility.”
The idea of nationhood is a 19th C concept. That many millions of people spoke Polish and were Catholic meant that Poland would almost certainly become a nation like other European states in the 20th.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

I must disagree, had the Central Powers triumphed in 1918, as they very nearly did, we would have heard very little of the Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians etc.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago

NO. The Poles had wanted their independence back for 150 years since the partitions, which had happened not because they were incapable of fighting but the impotence of their crazy political system. And you’re overlooking that during the war of 1921 between newly-resurrected Poland and Russia, the Poles were victorious.

mike dunford
mike dunford
1 year ago

what exactly are you on

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Surely we’ve learnt only Putin knows what Putin wants. Anyone trying to read his mind seems to have got it hopelessly wrong so far.

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
1 year ago

Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who at the time France was collapsing under the German offensive in 1940, offered France Union with the United Kingdom.
No one then saw that as a crafty move to reacquire English lands lost to France, but as an altruistic offer to share the pain of invasion.
Poland and Ukraine are no different. They are similar peoples with similar outlooks and with much interbreeding.

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
1 year ago

Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who at the time France was collapsing under the German offensive in 1940, offered France Union with the United Kingdom.
No one then saw that as a crafty move to reacquire English lands lost to France, but as an altruistic offer to share the pain of invasion.
Poland and Ukraine are no different. They are similar peoples with similar outlooks and with much interbreeding.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Withdrawn.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Faux-“Realists” invariably forget the very simple concept behind “Balance of Power”:
No single power dominates in Europe.
Moreover, when any tries, the rest immediately gang up on it.
If Putin had simply annexed Donbas–either through a legal referendum or illegal annexation through force–most nations would have complained. But few would have done more.
Putin’s (ultimately clownish) drive on Kyiv was different, however. For the EU immediately after Putin’s invasion, there was simply no other alternative. Russia had to be beaten and humiliated–so that it would once again learn this vital lesson.
Now, even Putin’s very modest objectives seem out of reach. Indeed, in future he may well lose most of his gains, putting his own power at risk.
This presents Europe with the real challenge of his invasion:
What to do when Russia ceases to be a major power?

Last edited 1 year ago by martin logan
Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

Why the need to do anything at all? Aside from the fact (1) that militarily, in Ukraine Russia has NOT proved its Major Power status, and (2) that economically it’s a major power only in the sense that Saudi Arabia is one.