Global-Insider: Russia-Poland Relations

Poland and Russia recently concluded a deal to increase the flow of Russian gas to Poland. In an e-mail interview, Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, program coordinator for international economic relations and energy security at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, discussed Poland-Russia relations.

WPR: What is the recent history of Russia-Poland relations?

Ernest Wyciszkiewicz: In recent years, Polish-Russian relations have been characterized by numerous crises and controversies over political matters. These extend to conflicting interests in their common neighborhood of Belarus and Ukraine as well as disputes over energy, trade and last but not least history -- or more precisely, contradictory versions of various past events. However, during the last two years, a cautious rapprochement has begun to emerge. Moscow has started to respond more positively to repeated Polish efforts, having noticed that a policy of negligence, combined with harsh rhetoric focused on alleged Polish Russophobia, had started to become counterproductive. Russian interests with respect to the EU became increasingly vulnerable to opposition from Poland and its allies within the union. These practical reasons were the main driving force behind the changes in mutual relations, along with encouraging responses from the Polish government. Moreover, a special Polish-Russian Group on Difficult Matters has been established, helping to transform political tensions into more pragmatic debate. Unfortunately, the tragic Smolensk plane crash in April -- killing the Polish president and dozens of political elites -- also contributed to the changes.

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