Poland lived under Russia’s thumb for centuries and is now fearful again in light of Russia’s aggression into Ukraine.
By Matthew Day
Russia has accused the Polish government of having a “warped mentality” and of falsifying history after Warsaw apparently refused to issue an invitation to Vladimir Putin to commemorations marking the 80th-anniversary of the start of the Second World War.
The Russian leader’s absence from the formal events, which will take place on September 1, appears to reflect continuing tensions between Poland and Russia.
Poland, which for centuries lived under the domination of its eastern neighbour, has viewed with disquiet and trepidation Russian aggression in Ukraine, and now considers Russia to be a major security threat.
But the decision to snub Mr Putin while extending invitations to Nato and EU allies, and Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic leader of Belarus, has angered Moscow and prompted a sharply-worded statement.
“It is with amazement that we have noted the intention of the Polish authorities to organise the commemoration in the format of a meeting of present allies and partners in Nato and the EU as well as members of the EU’s Eastern Partnership,” said the ministry.
“This ignores the logic of history in favour of modern realities,” it continues. “No place has been provided for our country despite its decisive contribution to defeating Hitler’s Reich and the liberation of Poland from Nazi invaders.”
The statement adds that the decision to leave Mr Putin out “is yet another symptom of the warped mentality of the present Polish administration, which, for its own ends, is falsifying the history of WWII and the post-war period.”
Earlier Blazej Spychalski, a spokesman for Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, had explained that history had not been taken into account when deciding who would attend the commemorations.
“The reasons behind the invitations for the commemoration were not historical,” he said in an interview with RMF, a radio station. “The invitations were issued according to a contemporary, not a historical, context.”
While it is still possible Poland will extend an invitation to Mr Putin, who was invited to the 70th-anniversary commemorations, the apparent snub will further stress relations between Warsaw and Moscow already mired in a bog of geopolitical and historical complexities and mistrust.