Duda calls for support of Ukraine on anniversary of WWII's outbreak

Adam Warżawa/PAP

Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of the start of the Second World War, President Andrzej Duda has called on Poland's allies to assist Ukraine and halt Russian imperialism.

Duda highlighted the fact that in Ukraine civilian citizens of a sovereign state are being murdered in basements and in the streets, some being shot in the back of the head.

He said Polish history was replete with dreadful events, but that they were testament to "the type of nation that we, Poles, are," elaborating that Poles are a nation that did not give up, and regained their freedom.

"Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent years, an imperialistic striving for the brutal subjugation of other countries and nations has not disappeared from the world, nor disappeared from the ambitions of some politicians nor unfortunately from some nations," the president said in a speech at Westerplatte on the Baltic coast, the site of the opening shots of WWII.

"We're observing it today beyond our eastern border, where Russia is no longer Soviet but has returned to its all-Russian imperialist desires to tower over other nations, to rule them, to subjugate them, to seize them by the throat, and if they don't want to submit, to destroy them, we are witness to that today," he continued.

Duda said it had been believed that such events had been consigned to 20th-century historical memory never to be repeated, but that artillery and warplanes were bombing civilian homes once more.

"We know that from 80 years ago and we're seeing it again; it must be stopped," Duda said. "We Poles know that and we understand it perfectly. That's why we're doing everything to help in the defence of our Ukrainian neighbours and to help all those who flee from that war to save their lives.

"That's why today we call on all our allies and the whole world, constantly and unceasingly, to help Ukraine and halt Russian imperialism," the president said, adding that neo-imperialism should not be run away from or feared but decisively opposed, and that that was the world's most important task today.

President Duda also talked of the necessity of strengthening the Polish armed forces and supplying them with the most modern equipment as quickly as possible, so that Poles would never again have to witness the terrible scenes their grandparents and parents had seen in 1939.