It seems certain of the Central European countries are not going along with Washington’s desires to isolate Russia due to the issues in Ukraine. Some combination of reality and realpolitik has overcome the situation, even for several members of NATO:
So let’s consider Hungary, a NATO member whose prime minister recently named Putin’s Russia as a political model to be emulated. Or NATO member Slovakia, whose leftist prime minister likened the possible deployment of NATO troops in his country to the Soviet invasion of 1968. Or NATO member Czech Republic, where the defense minister made a similar comparison and where the government joined Slovakia and Hungary in fighting the European Union’s sanctions against Russia. Or Serbia, a member of NATO’s “partnership for peace” that has invited Putin to visit Belgrade this month for a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s “liberation” of the city.
That’s three members and one partner. Several of these complaints were registered early on. What has changed?
Then there is Poland, which until recently was leading the effort within NATO and the European Union to support Ukraine’s beleaguered pro-Western government and punish Putin’s aggression.
For many reasons, I consider the critical player in this match to be Poland: historically, a buffer zone between east and west in Europe and a pawn of western powers in the run-up to World War II. Currently a member of NATO, one who previously led the charge for tough talk and tough actions against Russia.
When Poland was talking tough in this most recent calamity, I openly questioned the sanity of their political leadership. Regardless of one’s views on the situation in Ukraine or the role played by either the Russian or US governments, one look at a map might suggest to Poland’s political leadership a more tempered position. A consideration of the true value of an American guarantee might be in order. A moment’s pause to consider the transitioning relationship between Germany and Russia could be expected. A consideration of the different views of Poland’s immediate neighbors might be wise.
Apparently, times have changed:
This month its new prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, ordered her new foreign minister to urgently revise its policy. As the Wall Street Journal reported, she told parliament she was concerned about “an isolation of Poland” within Europe that could come from setting “unrealistic goals” in Ukraine.
Some common sense on this topic coming from Poland’s leadership. Again, whatever one’s view of the backstory of this conflict, Polish security requires a reality-based assessment of the situation – not action based on promises from the West that will prove to be as impossible to keep as were the British and French guarantees of 1939.
More, from Bloomberg:
“We shouldn’t rush to become part of this military conflict,” Kopacz said as she presented her cabinet. “When the big European family decides that we want to help” Ukraine, “then we should take part in providing help, but together with other countries.”
If actions follow these words, it represents a marked change from Poland’s previous stand on this issue; it also increases the likelihood of a calmer, peaceful resolution.
Finally, it continues to develop the possibility for the integration of Germany toward the east.