So the Russian president Vladimir Putin finally reappeared after a couple of days AWOL (experts counted it lasted 10 long days without any official appearances) and he made it in a stylish way. He met for a photo-op with a high-ranking official who happened to be the president of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev. It was almost like a meeting with Barack Obama or chancellor Merkel, save the sanctions guarantee that Putin is not welcome by these leaders. Putin also made sure that his big comeback impresses people, so he arranged the meeting with Kyrgyz leader in „lavish Tsarist-era palace outside St Petersburg” as described by Reuters.
All the hype about Putin being AWOL was crazy enough to confuse lots of people. Some experts get fooled to propose justifications for missing Russian leader. We heard stories such as: Putin being kidnapped or killed or jailed by a bunch of renegade generals; Putin welcoming a baby from his young gymnastic mistress; Putin having surgery or medical treatment. The Internet was simply buzzing from hypotheses and Putin just came and laughed it all off by saying „It’s boring without rumors”.
But apart from his Chuck Norris-esque performance, Putin provided the public, at home and abroad, with nothing new. It is to be determined, if the fact of his 10-day AWOL matters or not. What is important now and has to be repeated, is that Putin lied about Russian annexation of Crimea from the very beginning (in fact Putin lied from day 1) and he is so confident nowadays to say in the open. Moreover, as the anniversary of this annexation is being held, Putin repeats his claims of an American plot with Lithuanian and Polish involvement.
Why Russia Chose Poland
What one has to realize is that Poland is a favorite whipping boy, a scapegoat, to blame for failures and accuse of any kind of wrongdoings. Poland is always a black ship in European or Slavic family. Poland is the one country with most hawkish and anti-Russian attitude, a sort of Russophobia. Poland is also an American poodle, which barks at Washington’s request. From the Kremlin’s perspective Poland is the best target to blame anything, from sanctions to Ebola, that happens to Russia and its people.
Why Poland fits perfectly into this role designed by the Kremlin and its propagandists? Because it has a long history of relations with Russia and it understands Russia, Russians and the Russian soul. And this understanding is probably best in the world. Period. So when always romantic (but with business attitude in the back of the head) French or pragmatic Germans or Italians tend to accommodate Russia-just-being-itself, Poland is usually ringing alarm bells and trying to convince its European partners, that Russia has – and always had, it is a great power for centuries now – many other interests than simply doing business and making money. This is a great failure of NATO and the EU and other multinational organizations of the Western world – the fact, that they believed into Fukuyama’s „End of history” theory that became a blunder of the century. History didn’t end and Russia didn’t cease to be a great power and so it didn’t come to a conclusion of just making business, money and stay shut when other countries, that previously used to be part of a Soviet Union or were Moscow-dominated satellite states, were determining their own way without Moscow’s approval. Russia perceived itself as a great power but was not being treated as such. Many myths aroused then in Moscow and they are now cultivated as a cornerstone of a resurgent Russia. Russia that is powerful, ready to punch back it it feels intimidated and also ready to take back what it feels was taken from her.
Only Poland stood firm and said publicly what Russia is really about. But seldom anyone dared to listen. Of course, not only Poland said this, but also Lithuania and, sometimes, two other of its Baltic peers (Latvia and Estonia). But who cares about the tiny Baltic states? For the West they were non-beings and for Russia they were nothing more than little irritants. Nobody would take Russia serious if it singled out Lithuania or even used the Baltic states as a whipping boy. Poland fitted that role perfectly – it is a medium-sized European state with nearly 40 million inhabitants. And it has a long story of being pain in the ass of Russia. Nobody staged more insurrections and rebellions against Russian occupants than Polish people from whom Russia (with Prussia and Habsburg Empire) took independence for a long 123 years.
Take Poland Seriously
And Putin once again uses Poland as a whipping boy, commenting that mercenaries were being trained in Polish and Lithuanian camps, sponsored by the United States, and then used to fight ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Actually his words on this were aired just before his photo-op with Kyrgyz president. Same old propaganda cliche that we all know too well. So, German, French, British, Italian and other friends from the EU, be so kind to take what you read into account ant don’t dismiss Polish doubts about Russia. Be also aware that when Russia is whipping Poland, it’s doing it with a purpose.