President thanks for int'l support in WW2 dispute with Russia

President Andrzej Duda wishes to extend his thanks for the domestic and international support given Warsaw in its strife with Russia over Poland's role in the outbreak of World War Two, Duda's office head Krzysztof Szczerski informed PAP on Tuesday

Szczerski also said that Duda was disappointed with Russia's reaction to Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki's Sunday reply to Russian President Vladimir Putin's accusations of Polish complicity in the outbreak of the war, which triggered the dispute.

"President Andrzej Duda was disappointed to learn about Russia's reaction to PM Mateusz Morawiecki's statement, which had been consulted with him," Szczerski said. He added that Duda believed the dispute was leading nowhere and should be terminated, and informed that the Polish side planned no further official statements in the matter in the nearest future.

At a December 20 sitting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Putin said the immediate cause of World War Two was not the August 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union but the 1938 Munich Pact, which secured the cession to Germany of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten German territory and which Poland attempted to use to secure its claims to the Zaolzie region it was in dispute over with Czechoslovakia.

Referring to the Soviets' September 22, 1939, takeover of Brest in then eastern Poland (today's Belarus) from the Germans, who had captured the city several days earlier, Putin stressed that did not mean the Soviets had taken it from Poland, as at the time they were not fighting against Poland, which had lost control of the area. He also observed that the Red Army's entry into the region probably helped save many local lives, especially of Jews, who would have otherwise been exterminated by the Germans.

"At that time the Polish government had lost control of those territories, so there was nobody to negotiate with. The Soviet Union did not actually take anything away from Poland," Putin said.

He also accused Poland's pre-war government of hedging ties to Nazi Germany, by which they "exposed their people, the Polish people, to the German war machine and contributed to the outbreak of World War Two."

In his response to Putin's words, Morawiecki accused the Russian leader of deliberately spreading lies about Poland, and observed that this was typical of Moscow when it felt itself under international pressure.

"President Putin has repeatedly lied about Poland. And he has always done it consciously. "It usually happens when the authorities in Moscow feel international pressure caused by their activities. And this pressure is not on the historical stage but on the modern geopolitical scene," Morawiecki underlined in a statement published on Twitter, among others, on Sunday.

In this context Morawiecki reminded that Russia suffered several serious setbacks in recent weeks, most notably the failure to subordinate Belarus, the further extension of EU sanctions imposed after Moscow's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and the imposition of US restrictions hampering the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 project.

"The Russian leader is perfectly aware of the fact that his charges have nothing in common with the truth," Morawiecki wrote.