And here we go again! What the Russian army is doing in Ukraine under Putin’s leadership is nothing new. We have been going through this with occasional breaks for 250 years now! And after each time, Poland’s political position towards Russia is criticised in all its various forms. On more than one occasion I received an email criticising me personally for taking an unnecessary and incomprehensible anti-Russian stance in some of my posts. Others were convinced that my blog was a propaganda ear for the Polish government (as if the Russian issue had only existed since 2015). The most extreme case was that of a stalker who even wanted me prosecuted for sedition. I had to listen to all this because of my contributions on Polish-Russian history and especially because of my contribution Russia is not Europe, but could become it. There has been a brutal war in Ukraine since 24 February 2022. And it’s not as if it couldn’t have been foreseen.
That’s why I’m dedicating this post to all the Russian-understanders who frantically cling to the “special relationship with Russia”. Perhaps now, in these times of social media wars, is finally the time to drop this perspective and demand that Russia and the Russians take the European path or, finally, be expelled.
Russia is definitely not Europe and will not become one any time soon. If Russia were to become part of Europe, the Russian Federation would have to disintegrate into its component parts, Russia would have to become independent as a constituent state and turn away from its centuries-old imperial policy. Everyone, except the West of Europe, knows that there are only two possibilities. Either it is democracy or imperialism a la Russia. This country is held together only by a brutal policy of strength. This state will not allow itself any liberal thought, because otherwise it will collapse like a house of cards. Let us take a closer look at the two ways.
Russian soldiers have been on Polish territory almost continuously since at least the Battle of Poltava in 1709 (Northern War) and finally left Poland in 1993. Only between 1921 and 1939 were the Poles able to push them back. Since 1763, when the King of Poland was elected in Warsaw for the last time, Russia has been intervening in Poland’s political affairs without hesitation or incorporating the country directly into their empire. What do you think now, how many beautiful and positive things came out of this time for the Poles? Let’s take a look!
The last election of the King of Poland Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1763 was “supported” by Russian units. This was followed by the three Polish partitions in 1772, 1793 and 1795, which were carried out on the initiative of Tsarina Catherine the Great. Almost 750 thousand square kilometres were partitioned with the support of Prussia and Austria-Hungary. Between the second and third partitions, the Poles fought sacrificially for their independence from Russia, but were put down with the utmost brutality. Russia’s revenge was the Praga Massacre (now the eastern bank of the Vistula in Warsaw). Russian soldiers were ordered to force the Poles to surrender by massacring the civilian population. Up to 20 thousand civilians died within half a day.
The Congress of Vienna confirms the incorporation of Polish territories into the Empire. The international world community formally confirms the above divisions. Of course, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is included in these partitions as a constituent state of the Polish-Lithuanian Union. A period of Russification and humiliation begins. In 1830, 1863 and 1905, the Poles tried to break free from the chains. Each time the uprisings were brutally put down, the leaders of the rebels executed in the Warsaw citadel or, full of sympathy, deported to Siberia. There is even a name in the Polish language for the prisoners in the taiga: Sybirak! Holiday in Siberia? Your mother is already there! After 1863, the tsars ordered the land inhabited by Poles to be referred to only as “Vistula Land”.
In 1918, Poland became independent for 21 years. But the end of the war in the West heralded the war in the East of the continent. The Bolsheviks want to advance into the West to create the new world order with the help of German workers. Poland stands in the way and must be destroyed. The Polish-Soviet war begins. What the Russians fail to achieve in 1919-1921, they make up for in 1939-1945 and attack Poland without declaring war. All to protect the oppressed population.
At the same time, the Bolsheviks help the Ukrainians to benefit from the new system and are responsible for up to 7 million deaths from hunger.
The story of the 20 thousand murdered Polish officers in Katyn, Kharkov, Smolensk and Miednoye, the murder of the members of the underground army Armia Krajowa, the hundreds of thousands of expellees from the eastern territories, the brutal establishment of the communist system in the People’s Republic of Poland is certainly known at least in part.
This was followed by the brutal suppression of uprisings in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Solidarnosc period in Poland is marked by great sacrifices. And finally the year 1990 follows.
And did everyone really think that Russia would now become democratic? Every time it’s the same shit. Russia lashes out at regular intervals and causes only pain and suffering. What kind of state is this that you can only be afraid of? Russia broke away from the Golden Horde in the 15th century after 200 years of brutal oppression and carried the same methods into the 21st century. There is no question of enlightenment there!
This is what Russian imperialism looks like. And it will not change as long as this state continues to adhere to its form of government. We have been observing this procedure here for 250 years, over and over again.
A democratic Russia?
Gorbachev was the only leader in Russia’s history who wanted to open Russia to the civilised spirit of the times. He was either very naive or self-opinionated. Naïve, if he thought that the Soviet Union could continue to exist as an empire after perestroika. Self-sacrificing if he specifically wanted to bring the empire to an end. The empire shrank, retreated and remained silent.
From the West, it was definitely very naïve to believe that Russia became a democracy under special conditions in 1990. Russia is traiditonally in a permanent war. From the Russian perspective, it is a defensive war to keep the country safe. In order to be able to defend itself successfully, the area of influence must be as far west as possible.
Poland talks about this incessantly. Not without reason. In 1514, the royal advisors advised the Polish king to join the war between Lithuania and Russia because the Muscovites were advancing too far to the west. Polish and Russian military units faced each other for the first time in history at the Battle of Orscha in that year. Since then, there has been no respite in principle. Together, Lithuania and Poland, united in a personal union from 1384 to 1569 and in a real union until 1795, were able to push back the Russian armies for a long time. Under Sigismund III. Wasa, the elected king from the Swedish ruling house, Polish soldiers conquered the capital Moscow in 1610.
So what would have to happen for this back and forth to finally stop? Russia would have to be content with all neighbouring states having their own way and giving up large areas of its empire. However, without the geographical depth from the Russian point of view, Russia does not know how to defend itself and will not go down this road voluntarily.
The Russians have it in their hands
It is time the West stopped hoping that money could play a role in Russia. No single trade treaty, no student exchange, no visit by a Russian poet will ever be able to change the imperial mindset of the political elite. The Russian ballet, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Bulhakov, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn. I understand that this is a great European culture. But take a look at the books! They are all about war, serfdom and imperial politics. The works are a cry of despair. Beautiful literature in Russia is about gulags and dead souls!
Either imperialism or democracy! Russia today is geographically and mentally in the 17th century. The Russians have to (!) start all over again and hopefully this time they will do it the European way! But only they have it in their hands. It’s time for something to happen there.
*** Translated from German with www.DeepL.com ***