On 1 September Vladimir Putin, along with other world leaders, came to the Polish city of Gdansk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. Expectations were high regarding Putin’s speech, especially after he published an article in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that bore a conciliatory tone, and it even said that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was condemnable.
Analysis and foracast: decreasing risk
The speech went along the lines outlined in the Gazeta article. First time for a Russian leader since Boris Yeltsin he acknowledged that the massacre at Katyn was carried out by Russians. That was the maximum that could have been expected, as Putin has to keep domestic politics in mind, where – especially in recent times – bringing up the crimes of the former Soviet regime is considered treasonous. However, both sides gain with better relations. The meeting of PM Tusk and Putin was surprisingly cordial. The crisis has seriously impacted Russia, and it needs all revenue it can get. Poland needs an additional 2.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas and Russia is the only possible source. Talks have been ongoing for several months on a new long term gas agreement and according to Tusk the two sides are finally getting close to sealing the deal. There are other signs that the two countries are willing to strengthen relations. Earlier in May, when foreign ministers of the two countries met in Moscow Sergei Lavrov stated that both sides agreed “that historical issues should not have an impact on our present and future relations, moreover harm them”. His Polish counterpart Radoslav Sikorsky stated that Putin’s September visit would finalize “the cycle of normalization of Russian-Polish relations”. Also, it is now almost certain the U.S. missile defense shield plan will not be realized as originally planned, and with that another thorny issue is out of the way. In addition, Poland’s Chief of General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, met his Russian counterpart, General Nikolai Makarov, on 1 September. There hasn’t been a meeting on this level for 11 years, and now both sides declared that they are for re-establishing military cooperation.
Source: Central Statistical Office