PM warns war will be a trap for Russia

Albert Zawada/PAP

Poland's prime minister has warned that attacking Ukraine would create a trap for Russia and would lead to the country’s "renewed marginalisation.”

Mateusz Morawiecki made the warning in his weekly podcast posted on Facebook on Friday.

Russia has deployed around 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, prompting fears that it intends to invade its western neighbour.

War, said Morawiecki, would be a "trap for Russia."

"Putin's short-term aims and ambitions will threaten Russia's development prospects in the long term," he added. "The consequences will not be the re-building of an empire, but the renewed marginalisation of Russia."

It was high time the West, Morawiecki said, laid its cards on the table and showed that war with Ukraine would not pay off for Russia. 

He said Russia had been preparing an escalation on the Ukrainian border for a long time, and that the Kremlin has never agreed with the fact that Ukrainian society had chosen the path of freedom and democracy and that Ukraine had regained its sovereignty.

"Our eastern neighbour has found itself on a pro-Western course and started to extract itself from the Russian sphere of influence," he said, adding that this was perceived by Moscow as a threat. That is why Russia annexed Crimea, Morawiecki said, kindled the conflict in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, is now amassing its forces on the Ukrainian border and "plays at destabilising the whole region."

The Polish prime minister accused Russia of traditionally basing its international policy on "force, violence and blackmail" and said that "the key blackmail tool against the EU" was dependency on Russian gas. "That's Putin's great geopolitical project," he said, highlighting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a key element of this strategy.

Putin's ploy was to escalate tensions in order to secure certification for Nord Stream 2 in exchange for not attacking Ukraine, Morawiecki claimed.

He added that an armed conflict could be "very difficult" for Russia as its economy is dependent on Western equipment and the transfer of Western technology and know-how, as well as the Russian banking system being based on the SWIFT payment system, giving the West leverage in negotiations. 

"The best defence is a strong and solidarity-based approach of the entire West inducing Russia to respect international law, withdraw its armies and seek a political solution," he said, adding that the policy to date had been too soft against Moscow.