Extraordinary. Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the greatest conflict in history. And who will be on hand in Poland to commemorate the date? Vladimir Putin!
Vladimir Putin is due in Poland on Tuesday to stand with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Polish leaders to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the second world war. But this show of unity belies deep divisions about the war, its causes and its consequences. Even today, the debate remains a fraught public issue, which politicians do not leave to historians – especially not in eastern Europe.
Germany has accepted responsibility for starting the war, so Angela Merkel’s presence is appropriate. But Moscow continues to present itself (as the principal successor to the Soviet Union) as a victim. Tell that to the Poles. After all, the Soviets waited only a couple weeks while the Nazis destroyed the Polish military and then invaded from the east.
Also on the Soviet menu were Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which the U.S.S.R. absorbed. And Finland, which was forced to yield part of its territory.
Right, a victim of aggression!