foreign policy Russia finds it hard to forgive Poles especially
for their involvement in Ukraine
Warsaw, Poland, in Polish Thursday, 8 Dec 05
BBC Monitoring Service,. UK, in English, Monday, Dec 12, 2005
Text of an article by Mieczyslaw Ryba: “Balance of gains and losses”
published by Polish newspaper Nasz Dziennik website on 8 December
For several years now Polish foreign policy has had to cope with a new
configuration of forces in the Western world. That is because, ever since
the Iraqi war, we have been dealing with constant rivalry between the United
States and the European Union on the international arena. In that contest,
the Polish state has declared itself on the side of the Americans.
This has spurred considerable controversy between Warsaw and Paris, and
between Warsaw and Berlin. It should also be considered, however, that both
France and Germany opted for Russia as their strategic partner, and it is
Russia which is making an impact on Polish interests ever more adversely.
To Germany and France, which are losing in the global competition with the
United States, Russian oil and market look like an opportunity to be
exploited. In turn, to Russia, trade in raw materials is the pivotal factor
owing to which it can try to rebuilt its empire, even if on a limited scale.
The plan to build a trans-Baltic pipeline bypassing Poland ensues from the
fact that our country is viewed as lying in America’s direct zone of
influence and thus cannot be counted upon and needs to be maximally
The price we are paying for our alliance with the United States keeps
climbing, if only considering the ban on imports of Polish food products
into Russia. Soon it may turn out that this price will be in hundreds of
millions of dollars once the Russians introduce gas price increases.
RELATIONS WITH USA
Hence, the question of the balance sheet of gains and losses for our
alliance with the USA remains open. The gains are reflected in some
contracts in Iraq as well as in Poland’s enhanced standing on the
international area. As for the losses, they are mainly reflected in various
clashes with Russia.
For Russia finds it hard to forgive Poles for Iraq and especially for their
involvement in Ukraine. The so-called Orange Revolution was largely
supported by American foundations, and hence the actions of Polish
politicians were perceived by Moscow as hostile burrowing in its zone of
Of course, the change in the political alignment in Ukraine has proved
advantageous to Poland (it affords an opportunity for building a new order
in Central Europe). Still, there remains the question of whether it was wise
for many Polish politicians to proclaim on the first pages of newspapers
their direct involvement in the Ukrainian events. It is always possible to
provide aid and support a revolution without incurring publicity.
To be sure, the direct involvement of Polish politicians in the affairs of
the Ukrainian neighbour can at least be excused in substantive terms,
because the changes taking place there were in Polish national interest. But
the same cannot be said of Iraq. Our involvement in Iraq has exposed us to
the ire of not only many regional Euro-Atlantic powers but also to the
terrorist threat, heretofore absent in Poland.
Most analysts are of the opinion that the advantages we were able to derive
in our negotiations with the Americans were too low. This is not about
contracts for several Polish companies but about political support. For if
the Polish government has decided to support the Americans in a situation in
Iraq that is difficult to them, why should the American government remain
passive in a situation in which our exports to Russia are being blocked and
the history of the enslavement of Central Europe is being falsified as
regards Katyn and the Yalta decisions?
Such examples can be multiplied. American reactions are either trivial or
totally absent. That is because the Americans want to have correct relations
with Russia given the turmoil in the Near East and the disputes with China.
Hence, our support for the Iraqi war is not reciprocated with support for
our country’s problematic situations.
The Americans can support hundredfold as much their Israeli ally in
situations that are thousandfold more complicated (the conflicts in the Near
East), whereas the Polish ally receives secondary treatment.
Poland’s involvement in Ukraine should be rapidly bolstered by the Americans
in the sense that they should provide extra financing for building bold
infrastructural projects (such as a Warsaw-Kiev highway, to be built with
loan guarantees provided by the US government to American contractors).
Such projects would alter the position of Central Europe in the context of
the economic processes ongoing on the Old Continent. Yet no such decisions
have been taken, and neither have Poles made the related demands to the
Summing up, Polish policy should pursue the aim of maximum sovereignty. A
tactical alliance with the Americans can help achieve that aim. At the same
time, our global involvement should correspond to our potential. Poland has
no interests to pursue, nor the potential to pursue them, by involving
itself in the conflicts in the Near East.
If it wants to thus involve itself in the interest of, say, the Americans,
it should do so only if it is protected by the United States in conflicts
with its neighbours. Otherwise, any such involvement smells of naivete and
It is not good when a country poses for itself global aims exceeding its
potential. But it is even worse when the converse happens and a weak country
tries to pursue a quasi-imperial policy. In this way it exposes itself to,
on the one hand, ridicule and on the other, danger.
In the current situation, especially following the change of government in
Poland, we can expect that top government bodies will be purged of foreign
agents and independence from Russian domination will be gained. Should this
succeed, we can thereupon afford rapprochement with Russia and, to that end,
even perform spectacular gestures on the international arena. For then this
will no longer threaten our domestic sovereignty.
Allies can also be sought elsewhere. The question arises whether, in
addition to the economic involvement of the Koreans in our country, we
should also consider major incentives for Chinese capital. Were the Chinese
to maintain economic bridgeheads in Poland, they would much more willingly
support us on the international arena.
For while the strategic alliance of Poland with the United States makes
sense, it makes just as much sense that Poland, located in the heart of
Europe, should pursue the broadest possible “multilateral” policy so as to
arm itself with a gamut of options in the face of difficult situations. Only
then will we be able to speak of solid foundations for preserving Polish
independence in the context of contests on the international arena. -30-