War of the Words! World’s media line up to defend PM Morawiecki and slam Putin’s ‘reckless’ WWII comments as tensions mount
Media outlets across the globe have rounded on Russian president Vladimir Putin following his comments about Poland's role in the outbreak of World War Two.
An Associated Press article titled, "Polish PM accuses Putin of lying about outbreak of WWII" was reprinted by the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, Yahoo, ABC News, the Times of Israel and the British Daily Mail.
The article quoted US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher who tweeted: "Dear President Putin, Hitler and Stalin colluded to start WWII. That is a fact. Poland was a victim of this horrible conflict.”
The Russian embassy responded: "Dear Ambassador, do you really think that you know about history any more than you do about diplomacy?"
The Second World War began on September 1st, 1939, following Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland.
Two weeks later, Stalin’s Red Army invaded from the east just days after the Nazi and Soviet regimes had signed a pact with a secret protocol to carve up Poland.
Sweden's national daily Aftonbladet ran a brief account of Morawiecki's response to Putin's remarks and pointed out that the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17 1939.
The British Emerging Europe portal ran an article titled, "Polish PM claims Russia’s rewriting of history is a threat to Europe," in which it quotes Putin and Morawiecki and discussed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Commentaries on the conflict around Putin's statements also appeared in the British Daily Express, the Dutch-language Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws, and online media in the US, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Czech Republic.
At a December 20th 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 said that did not mean the Soviets had taken it from Poland, as they were not fighting against Poland at the time and Poland had lost control of the area.
He added that the Red Army's entry into the region probably helped save many local lives, especially those of Jews, who would have 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 response Morawiecki accused the Russian leader of deliberately spreading lies about Poland, and said that this was typical of Moscow when it felt itself under international pressure.
The PM Tweeted on Sunday: ”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.”
"The Russian leader is perfectly aware of the fact that his charges do not have anything in common with the truth," Morawiecki wrote.
The PM added that Russia has 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.
On Friday Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreev was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry.
Following the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said the Polish side had lodged a firm protest against Putin's comments, describing them as "historical insinuations."
Przydacz added that Putin's statements regarding the causes of the outbreak of the war and Poland's role in it were rooted in Stalinist propaganda.
Andreez told the TASS news agency the talks were "difficult, but civil," and said both sides were able to present their positions.
Andreev also said he was unaware of any complaints from Poland and said that if one had been lodged, he would have "forwarded an appropriate reply to such unfounded and insulting remarks against my country and my president."