"The coming Russian-Polish war
by Gilbert Doctorow
gilbertdoctorow.com (July 23, 2023)
This evening’s News of the Week program on Russian state television opened with a 30 minute documentary survey of Polish-Russian relations from the end of WWI and during the period of the Russian Civil War, when the government under Marshall Pilsudski wrested substantial territory from Russian control. It also dealt extensively with Poland’s well documented role as aggressor and occupier of Czechoslovak, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belarus lands from before the start of WWII and until Hitler overran Poland.
This reportage was all built around Vladimir Putin’s speech to the RF Security Council on Friday which was partly broadcast then. Excerpts from that speech were used to introduce or segments of the overall documentary.
Let us recall that on Friday, Putin explained how and why we may expect the formal entry into the war of a Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian joint military force that will officially be presented as defending Ukrainian statehood by occupying the Western Ukraine. However, Putin described this as an occupying force which once installed in Lvov and Western Ukraine would never leave. This would in effect be a repeat of the sell-out of Ukrainian interests to Poles and cession of territory to Poland such as had been perpetrated by their leader Semyon Petlyura in April 1920 and has now been repeated in the secret agreements between presidents Zelensky of Ukraine and Duda of Poland.
However, that was not the only pending Polish aggression announced by Vladimir Putin on Friday. He said that Poland also had designs on Belarus land. The documentary this evening fleshed out that remark and reminded us of what Belarus territory Poland had grabbed by force in the 20th century when it had the opportunity. It also pointed a finger at those Belarus fighters abroad who will be used by Poland to spearhead their move against Minsk from Polish territory, and what armaments they are receiving from the United States and NATO member countries.
With respect to Polish designs on Ukraine, Putin did not tip his hand on what Russia’s response may be. But as regards Belarus, he stated directly on Friday that any act of aggression against Belarus will be considered an attack on Russia and Russia will respond with all the military force at its disposal. He warned Warsaw to consider the consequences of their actions.
Putin’s speech on Friday appeared to be directed at Warsaw. The program this evening was clearly directed at the broad Russian public, to prepare them for the onset of a possible Russian-Polish war in the immediate future.
This point was highlighted by the ongoing visit of Belarus president Lukashenko to Petersburg. There has been pomp and ceremony in this visit. Both presidents today visited Kronstadt, touring its principal church, which is the spiritual home of the Russian Navy. They also visited the about to be opened new museum of the Russian Navy, and its featured exhibit, which is Russia’s first nuclear submarine, the country’s answer to the American Nautilus at the time. And they held talks on the military and political threats their countries face. These talks unexpectedly will continue in the Konstantinovsky Palace outside Petersburg tomorrow. The reason for extensive consultations was clear from remarks that Lukashenko made to the press during his meeting with Putin: namely that Belarus military intelligence has been following very closely the massive build-up of Polish forces including tanks, helicopters and other heavy military equipment close to the Belarus border at several locations.
Tonight’s News of the Week program explained to the Russian public that the Poles’ new aggressive plans are proceeding only because of their confidence that Uncle Sam supports them. And they named the person embodying this link as former Foreign Minister of Poland Radoslaw Sikorsky (2014-15), who is today a Member of the European Parliament and delegate responsible for relations with the United States. A photo of Sikorski’s latest meetings with Pentagon officials and with Joe Biden and his advisers was put on the screen. For those who may wonder about Sikorsky’s political views, it pays to remember that he is the husband of neo-con, Russia-hating journalist Anne Applebaum, who is very well known to American audiences for her regular columns in The Washington Post.
From Russian talk shows of the past several days, it is easy to understand the Kremlin’s reading of the present proxy war in and around Ukraine: Washington sees that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is a complete failure that has cost tens of thousands of lives among the Ukrainian armed forces and has seen the destruction of a large part of the Western equipment delivered to Ukraine over the past months. Instead of suing for peace, Washington seeks to open a ‘second front,’ using Poland for this purpose.
One possible Russian response to any move against Belarus has also been discussed on air: to seize the Suwalki corridor that connects Kaliningrad to Belarus across Polish territory.. Taking control of that corridor would have the effect of isolating the Baltic States from Poland and thereby put their security at peril.
The inescapable conclusion from the latest news is that Washington’s incendiary policies and continuing escalation of the conflict cannot secure Russia’s defeat. On the contrary, they may well lead to the total collapse of the NATO alliance once its military value is disproven in a way that cannot be talked away or papered over by the most creative propagandists in DC.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023