Polish FA Ministry criticises Putin

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a rebuttal to the statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 20th, in which he denied Soviet responsibility for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which carved up the territory of Poland, Finland, the Baltic states and Romania between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union just days before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Russian president rejected Western criticism of the Soviet Union’s pact with Nazi Germany during a Eurasian Union meeting in St. Petersburg, grouping together the heads of state and government of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Vladimir Putin criticized a resolution issued by the European Parliament in August in connection with the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Nazism and Stalinism observed every year on the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23rd 1939.

President Putin, instead accused Poland and the Western powers of colluding with Adolf Hitler by signing agreements with Germany, most notably the Munich Agreement during which Great Britain, France and Italy allowed Germany to annex part of Czechoslovakia in exchange for Hitler promising not to make any further territorial demands.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement, correcting what it considers a false historical narrative presented by the Russian president.

In the statement, the Polish side wrote that it has noted with disbelief, statements made by the Russian government and President Putin on the outbreak of the Second World War which run contrary to historical events. The Ministry stressed that the new narrative presented by the Russian side constitutes a return to the propaganda story spread by the USSR under the times of Stalinism but which had been rejected by every Soviet government since the de-stalinization introduced by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956.

The Polish MFA added that the USSR targeted Poles even before the outbreak of the war, killing more than 110 000 Poles in the so-called Polish Operation in 1937. It noted that the Soviet Ambassador to Germany proposed deepened political cooperation between the two states as early as on April 17th 1939, which was followed by Germany withdrawing from a non-aggression pact with Poland just a week later.

The Polish MFA underlined that after the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, more than 380 000 Poles were forcibly deported to the depths of Siberia and Kazakhstan while more than 22 000 Polish officers were murdered by the Soviets in the 1940 Katyn Massacre.

The Polish side appealed to the Russian government to reassume dialogue within the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters which was created in 2002 to allow Polish and Russian scientists to try to overcome historical differences between the two countries and to advice the governments in bilateral relations.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded its statement with an appeal to the Russian side to return to the historical truths admitted by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Jeltsin in previous decades, noting that an honest relationship to the truth will honour millions of victims of Stalinism, including those of Russian nationality.