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Putin Makes Wild Claim That Poland Plans to Invade Ukraine and Belarus, Threatens War

Russian President Vladimir Putin achieves social and blast radius distancing during Security Council meeting. CREDIT: Kremlin, Office of the President

Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin used a videoconference with members of Russia’s Security Council to warn Poland that any meddling in Belarus would mean war and to try to stir up animosity between Poland and two of its key allies, Lithuania and Ukraine. In the process, in the vernacular of my people, he may have let his mouth write checks that his ass can’t cash.

The official Russian translation has Putin saying:

As for the Polish leaders, they probably hope to form a coalition under the NATO umbrella in order to directly intervene in the conflict in Ukraine and to bite off as much as possible, to “regain,” as they see it, their historical territories, that is, modern-day Western Ukraine. It is also common knowledge that they dream about Belarusian land.

Regarding the policy of the Ukrainian regime, it is none of our business. If they want to relinquish or sell off something in order to pay their bosses, as traitors usually do, that’s their business. We will not interfere.

But Belarus is part of the Union State, and launching an aggression against Belarus would mean launching an aggression against the Russian Federation. We will respond to that with all the resources available to us.

Other translations render it as “Poland wants to tear off part of the western territory of Ukraine and Belarus under the NATO umbrella, this is a dangerous game.” In regards to alleged Polish plans to expand into Western Ukraine, Putin says, “We will not interfere,” but in the case of any move against Belarus, “We will respond to this with all the means at our disposal.”

Proximate Cause

On June 23-24, Wagner Group PMC staged a rebellion/coup d’etat, withdrawing from combat in Ukraine and marching on Moscow (Russia Faces Either a Military Mutiny or Coup D’Etat From Wagner PMC Boss Prigozhin). The mutiny ended through negotiations, and part of the bargain was that Wagner fighters could sign contracts with the Russian Army or go to Belarus (Russian Coup Update: It Ends With a Whimper as Prigozhin Goes Into Exile but Will Anything Ever Be the Same?).

About 15,000 Wagner fighters are eventually expected to decamp to Belarus, where they are training Belarus troops near the Polish border.

Polish Reaction

The Polish reaction to several thousand mercenaries appearing on their border and training the hapless Belarusian army was pretty much what one would expect.

[Polish President Andrzej] Duda told reporters in Kyiv, “It is difficult for us to exclude today that the presence of the Wagner Group in Belarus could pose a potential threat to Poland, which shares a border with Belarus, a threat to Lithuania… as well as potentially to Latvia.”

On Wednesday, Poland responded by deploying up to 6,000 soldiers to the Belarus frontier.

Russian Bluster

Thursday, Russia objected to Poland’s internal redeployment of its army, calling it “a cause for concern.” To rational people, sending 10,000+ battle-damaged criminals to Belarus and having them train Belarusian troops on the Polish border would be a cause for concern. But megalomania is amazing to watch.

Poland is the Villain in Putin’s Drama

To fully understand what is going on, I think the best place to look is Putin’s speech. I’m a firm believer that when your enemy is telling you his intentions, you owe him the courtesy, and yourself the favor, of hearing him out; (see Did a Quickly Deleted Essay in Russian Media Explain What Vladimir Putin Wants Russia to Gain From the Ukraine Invasion? and Putin’s Threats to Sweden and Finland Are Much More Real Than They Are Being Given Credit For.) The links in the blockquote are mine.

Just to remind you, following WWI, after the defeat of Germany and its allies, Polish units occupied Lvov and adjacent territories that had been part of Austria-Hungary.

With its actions incited by the West, Poland took advantage of the tragedy of the Civil War in Russia (that “tragedy” was the USSR invading Poland in an attempt to annex it (Polish-Soviet War) so it sort of amazing that Putin would bring this up in the context of his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine) and annexed certain historical Russian provinces. In dire straits, our country had to sign the Treaty of Riga in 1921 and recognise the annexation of its territories.

Even earlier, back in 1920, Poland captured part of Lithuania – the Vilnius region, a territory surrounding the present-day Vilnius. So they claimed that they fought together with the Lithuanians against so-called Russian imperialism, but then immediately snatched a piece of land from their neighbour as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

As is well known, Poland also took part in the partition of Czechoslovakia following the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938, by fully occupying Cieszyn Silesia.

In the 1920-1930s, Poland’s Eastern Borderlands (Kresy) – a territory that comprises present-day Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and part of Lithuania – witnessed a tough policy of Polonisation and assimilation of local residents, with efforts to suppress local culture and Orthodoxy.

I would also like to remind you what Poland’s aggressive policy led to. It led to the national tragedy of 1939, when Poland’s Western allies threw it to the German wolf, the German military machine. (Hmmm…something is missing.) Poland actually lost its independence and statehood, which were only restored thanks in a large measure to the Soviet Union. It was also thanks to the Soviet Union and thanks to Stalin’s position that Poland acquired substantial territory in the west, German territory. It is a fact that Poland’s western lands are a gift from Stalin.

(Map added for historical context. Poland’s pre-1939 boundaries are in blue.)

Have our Warsaw friends forgotten this? We will remind them.

Today we see that the regime in Kiev is ready to go to any length to save its treacherous hide and to prolong its existence. They do not care for the people of Ukraine or Ukrainian sovereignty or national interests.

They are ready to sell anything, including people and land, just like their ideological forefathers led by Petlyura, who signed the so-called secret conventions with Poland in 1920 under which they ceded Galicia and Western Volhynia to Poland in return for military support. Traitors like them are ready now to open the gate to their foreign handlers and to sell Ukraine again.

As for the Polish leaders, they probably hope to form a coalition under the NATO umbrella in order to directly intervene in the conflict in Ukraine and to bite off as much as possible, to “regain,” as they see it, their historical territories, that is, modern-day Western Ukraine. It is also common knowledge that they dream about Belarusian land.

This kind of attack on Poland is not unprecedented as that country has emerged as the regional counterweight to Moscow’s ambitions, see Former Russia President Calls Poland the Source of ‘Evil, Vulgar and Shrill’ Propaganda and Joe Biden ‘Demented’ as Biden Prepares to Visit Poland.

Underlying Cause

There are several moving parts involved. Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania have been edging towards a regional alliance called the Lublin Triangle. This, naturally, has been opposed by Russia. Putin’s War in Ukraine has strengthened the unity of the three nations. Poland and Lithuania are two of the largest contributors to Ukraine, by percent of GDP.

A natural adjunct to the Lublin Triangle is Belarus. Belarus is part of Russia’s laughable “Union State.” Under this treaty and under the increasingly unpopular mismanagement of Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus has become dependent upon Russia for trade and isolated from Europe. The population is restive. Putin has tried to pull Belarus into the war with Ukraine several times (see Belarus Prepares to Join Russia’s Unprovoked Assault on Ukraine, Belarus Rail Lines Carrying Trains With Supplies for the Russian Army Are Being Hit by Sabotage Attacks, Belarus Withdraws Ambassador as Ukraine Warns of Impending Attack From Belarus, and Putin’s War, Week 43. Zelensky Visits the Front Lines and Washington, Putin Tries to Push Belarus Into War), but his people have no stomach for it. In my view, the only thing that has kept Putin’s Mini-me in Minsk from entering the war is the specter of a general uprising and a Polish invasion.

Poland, for its part, is rapidly expanding its army, creating a territorial defense force similar to the Ukrainian forces that stopped the Russian Army in its tracks in February-March 2022, and investing heavily in weaponry that is a generation advanced from anything Russia has fielded Putin’s War, Week 73. Putin Eludes Arrest, Black Sea Grain Initiative Dies, and Ukraine’s Offense Continues to Grind Away.

In fairness, some politically powerful Poles have done a good job of trolling Putin over Poland’s strategic objectives; see Former Head of Poland’s Armed Forces Follows Putin’s Example and Says Part of Russia Belongs to Poland. They didn’t take Putin’s speech lying down.

What It Means

I’m by no means an authority on Eastern Europe so I’m going to crawl out on a limb here and guess at what it means.

Since Putin can no longer bully Poland and the Baltic States, he’s attempting to sow discord. Poland is, far and away, the most powerful nation in the former Warsaw Pact and is anxious to take a leading role in European affairs. Putin sees that and knows that a well-armed, implacably hostile Poland at the head of a coalition of frontline states will put a permanent end to his vision for a return of the Russia of the Romanovs. By putting into play allegations that Poland intends to annex the parts of Ukraine and Lithuania it lost to the USSR in 1945, Putin is trying to destroy the trust and cooperation that has developed between those nations.

I don’t think Putin’s speech is going to have any role in how Poland behaves. No one is afraid of the Russian Army. The Russian Air Force is a joke. Sane people know that China will never allow its Russian sockpuppet state to use nuclear weapons. If Belarus or the Wagner criminals squatting there create a border incident, nothing Putin says will dissuade retaliation or, quite possibly, a march on Minsk.

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