Putin’s Letter to the Poles

Recently, Poland and Russia have been having a little dust up over the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, in anticipation of tomorrow’s 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. To calm things down, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin penned a piece for the Polish daily, Gazeta, addressing himself to the Polish people. It’s a conciliatory appeal that seeks to address Polish sensitivities while using pre-WWII Great Power maneuverings to argue for Russia’s place in the European security architecture. And it illustrates what I meant earlier when I said that the Poles stand to gain from a more cooperative atmosphere between Russia and the West than from heightened tensions.

This is also one of the smartest diplomatic moves from Russia in some time. I’d mentioned in the aftermath of the Georgia War that whatever strategic advantage Russia might gain from it depended on it adopting a conciliatory posture elsewhere, to reassure Eastern Europe in particular, but the West in general, that there wasn’t only a bunch of trigger-happy lunatics running things out of the Kremlin, but also some level-headed folks to deal with when the shooting died down. Last winter’s gas shenanigans weren’t quite what I had in mind.

But this is. If it’s genuine and represents the opening move of a real process, it could go a long way.

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