WARSAW, Poland — The Russian ambassador to Poland was summoned by the Polish Foreign Ministry on December after Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly blamed Poland in past days for the outbreak of World War II.
The Polish state news agency PAP reported that Ambassador Sergey Andreev was “urgently” summoned to the ministry in Warsaw. He was told Polish authorities strongly oppose the recent “historical insinuation” voiced by Putin and other Russian officials, the deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said.
Przydacz said Poland considers the views expressed by Putin and and other Russian leaders amounted to the “Stalinist historical narrative” and “propaganda of a totalitarian state.”
“They are also a mockery of the millions of victims of Stalinist totalitarianism, whose victim was also the Russian people,” Przydacz said.
A painful memory
It is only the latest dispute between the two Slavic nations over how to remember the war.
Poles remember being invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of a conflict that left 6 million dead. Warsaw considers both powers to have been aggressors who unleashed suffering and death.
Russia focuses on the Soviet sacrifices that came after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, which brought the Soviets into the war on the side of the Allies. Some 27 million Soviet citizens died in the fight to free Europe from Nazi terror.
Putin has been lashing out in recent days against a resolution adopted by the European Parliament that says that the Soviet Union bears responsibility for World War II. Putin has called that “sheer nonsense.”
The war began days after Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin agreed to carve up Poland and the Baltic states based on a secret protocol in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact they signed on Aug, 23, 1939.
Putin has been casting the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty as a move the Soviet Union was forced into following nonaggression agreements some other European nations had signed with Hitler.
A Western collusion ?
He cited a 1938 agreement reached by Germany, Britain, France and Italy that allowed Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia as an example of Western leaders’ alleged “collusion” with Hitler.
Putin cited archive documents that he claimed show the Polish ambassador to Berlin praising Hitler’s plans to rid Europe of Jews.
In an angry outburst, Putin denounced the ambassador as a “scum” and “anti-Semitic swine.”