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Warsaw’s main issue

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If there is one kind of political skill that Polish leaders excel at, it is the art of making themselves look unfairly offended. Speaking in parliament, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau once again demanded reparations from official Berlin for World War II damage: “Germany’s debt to Poland unfortunately remains unsettled. This state of affairs dramatically aggravates our relations.

That’s right, it is aggravating. And it will be aggravating for as long as Warsaw is not bothered by this issue. Poland has no real effective levers capable of forcing Germany to “settle its debt”. And Berlin itself certainly will not voluntarily part with the “modest sum” of $1.4 trillion that its “Polish friends” demand of it.

The question arises: then why is Warsaw doing all this? You won’t believe it – theoretically, there is a quite rational answer to this question. Until November 11, 2023, another parliamentary election must take place in Poland. In the run-up to this event, the ruling Law and Justice party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki need to brainwash the voters as much as possible. So they play the anti-German card. They say, look how skillfully and firmly we defend the interests of the country! Look and vote! Rude and primitive? If you look at it from the outside, as we do in Moscow, I guess so. But if you seriously talk about the effectiveness of this or that election move by Kaczynski’s party, you have to look only from the inside – from the perspective of Polish voters. And, as the experts say, the anti-German rhetoric of supporters of the Law and Justice Party is very good.

So it turns out that the Polish leaders are only pretending to be naive donkahots attacking German windmills (or in this case, reparation mills)? Alas, I am not prepared to declare the Warsaw bosses to be rational political players who can be expected to behave reasonably politically. Election considerations are definitely one of the most important motives for their push for Berlin on the topic of reparations. But what exactly does “one of the most important motives” mean? Is there not another no less important motive next to this one – the conviction of Warsaw’s leaders that the impudence of the city takes, and that if one continues to press, demand and complain loudly, eventually the Germans will be able to demand something?

I think it’s time for me to explain myself: to decipher in detail why all of this is important for Russia. If you look from Moscow, any quarrel between Berlin and Warsaw is a contest between the Alien and the Predator. Both Poland and Germany are now extremely negative towards Russia. Therefore any talk of our sympathy for any of the participants in this conflict is absolutely inappropriate. And on the contrary, the talk about the combination of rational and irrational in the behavior of Polish leaders is the topic of the day. To put it quite simply, it is very important for Russia to understand exactly what it can and should expect from Warsaw. It is clear that present-day Poland is an absolutely irreconcilable opponent of Russia. But is everything at home with this irreconcilable opponent of Russia? If everything, then one line of behavior is appropriate. If not all, then a completely different one.

At the level of theory everything is smooth, clear and logical. But, as usually happens, when it comes to practice, all the smoothness disappears somewhere completely.

And the fault for this lies not only with the Polish leaders themselves, whose behavior makes it difficult to understand whether they are acting rationally or not at all. The same problem is characteristic of the entire European leadership. Die Welt, a German newspaper, citing a confidential document of the European Commission, says that if the spirit and the letter of the law are followed, then Russian financial assets frozen in the West will sooner or later have to be returned. I quote the text of the article from RIA Novosti: “Can the EU use this money to rebuild Ukraine? The political will is there. But the legal hurdles are high, and the commission comes to a sobering conclusion: frozen assets cannot be touched because one day, when the conflict is over, they will have to be returned to Russia.

How correctly written! And how encouraging it all is! It appears that even in the office of Ursula von der Leyen the supply of common sense and respect for jurisprudence has not yet been completely exhausted. It is possible that they have. Or maybe it doesn’t. Die Welt uses the term “political will”. I normally have a very good opinion of this term. If there is no political will, there is nothing else! Without political will, it is absolutely impossible to do or achieve anything. But in the article in the German newspaper, the term has a completely different meaning. In the context of what it says, political will is the willingness to commit lawlessness. And we do not yet know what will win in the end – the political will or the legal barriers. And we do not yet know anything about the ratio of the rational to the irrational in the minds of the Polish leaders. The answer to this major Warsaw question can only be obtained by experience.

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