Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Ukraine: Being the buffer IS Poland's job

Der Spiegel carries an interesting piece this morning a year after the anti-Russian mobs took over the Maidan in Kiev. The amateurish and manipulative tactics of the EU's unelected Commissioners, the early miscalculations by Moscow and the corrupt and wibbly oscillation of Yanukovich are detailed. Intriguingly, there are telling details that beg further questions; that the EU only provided Ukraine with an English language version of the complex Association Agreement, and Moscow had to provide a Russian translation to the Ukrainians, and most critically a hint of Poland's intransigence and absolutism. 
The Poles in particular insisted that the issue (Tymoshenko) could not be allowed to torpedo the association agreement. Behind closed doors, President Bronisaw Komorowski said: "Never again do we want to have a common border with Russia."
And there I think you have it; the EU's position was driven by Poland's desire not to the be the buffer between Western Europe and Russia, and an attempt to shift this role to Ukraine. It is, to be sure, an issue of concern to the Poles and Germans, the Czechs and Slovacs. But do the Spanish or the Italians really care whether Poland or Ukraine is the buffer? And are they consciously willing to pay the estimated €3bn to €12bn a year cost of shifting the buffer zone? The whole Ukraine dispute has the smell of a German-Polish initiative that was allowed to get out of hand - Ukrainian accession is by no means in the best interest of the EU as a whole. 

And from the UK's rather more objective view, it IS Poland's job to be the buffer; that is what Poland is there for. Putin's game is by no means played out yet, and this winter will tell how firmly rooted is the the resolve of both the EU and Russia. 


Wildgoose said...

I have to confess my sympathies are with Russia. The Collapse of the Communist System didn't just free up the satellite states of the USSR, it also freed Russia itself.

However whereas the other states were welcomed with open arms, Russia was treated with abuse, suspicion and disdain.

And what are the EU's maneuverings intended to be if not anti-Russian? Just because Russia's big, it doesn't mean they have to be bad, (it's reminiscent of the constant abuse we in England get from our "Celtic cousins" for being "too big").

Attacking Russia is never going to end well. Recognising that the past is the past, treating them as friends and actually listening to both sides in any disagreements and we might actually achieve something.

After all, is anybody going to seriously disagree that they were absolutely correct with respect to the Islamist danger in Syria at the time when the idiots we have in charge were wanting to arm the people who became ISIS against Assad?

Bloke In Italy said...

Radders - equally complicit in intent and certainly much more so in terms of affecting the outcome were the machinations of the US state department in ousting Yanukovic.

However, an interesting analysis, and a depressing business altogether.

Anonymous said...

One might have thought Poland would equally want a buffer between it and Germany. It's likely they were treated worse under the German occupation that they ever were under Soviet occupation.

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken A said...

"it IS Poland's job to be the buffer"

What Poland needs is some kind of guarantee. Some kind of agreement on paper that will state that if Poland is attack the other signatories will "come a running"

Just like they had on 31 Aug 1939. That will make them feel safer.

Don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Suggest you take a peek at Norman Davies's God's Playground, his very erudite and readable history of Poland. This will explain a lot.

Please remember there are no natural borders on the great European plain. Soemthing often overlooked by the Brits safe behind their 22 mile anti-tank trap.

Raedwald said...

I remember overhearing the end of a slightly heated conversation many years ago, with the final words "Look, someone's got to sit next to Princess Margaret!" quite audible.

Well, someone's got to border Russia - and my point is, it's Poland's job. In reality, Poland is no safer with NATO's trigger being on the Dnieper than the Vistula.

Ed P said...

A hard winter may change the balance yet - gas supplies from Russia are still not guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

I never thought for a minute that Poland and Mutti were involved, a buffer between the buffer is eminently sensible to all Poles, whose history is a sorry tale. Living between two neighbours who never got on and only a plain in between - I can empathize with Polish anxieties but I do not sympathize with the way all of this was done, it has been a foul and sordid affair and it's a long way off being played out. It troubles me, that because of our involvement with the Brussels ninnies - we are dragged in. Though God knows we could do without it [war in Ukraine] and Cameron's schoolboyish interventions - what a puerile dick head he really is, an embarrassment to all Englishmen.

Anonymous said...

weren't - Egad!

Mike Spilligan said...

In my mind you're spot-on again Raedwald, and if I remember correctly (from the reports at the time)the negotiations at Versaille in 1919 listed all the inequities and worse dumped upon Poland over the preceding 800 years. That was surely an indication that the Poles had to adapt - or to move Poland somewhere else.
What puzzles me - and it could be said about many subjects - is why the MSM report anti-Russian propaganda so seriously, especially as they know that there's more than one viewpoint here. I particularly refer to Cameron's speech in Kazakhstan in July last year when he said that he looks forward to the day when the EU stretches from the Urals to the Atlantic Ocean and that was hardly reported here. To me that was an invitation (cleared with the FCO and Merkel?) to any bankrupt and supplicant eastern European nation to burden our overstressed economy even further.
After the demise of the USSR, Russia paid up Ukraine's foreign debts without demanding a quid-pro-quo, except to say "You're on your own, now". Perhaps the meaning got lost in translation.

Demetrius said...

Tune in to Radio Gleiwitz for the latest news.

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...

Radders you are right to a certain extent. Poland is and will remain, if able, a bulwark against Russian expansionism.

However, you will never be asked to pay any price for that bulwark. In a truly just world, you should have to contribute to your own defense.

How much Sterling are you willing to send Polands way? How many British Soldiers lives are you willing to risk?

If I miss my guess here, I do not think Britain or yourself for that matter, is willing to give up anything at all.

A piece of paper without meaning maybe but anything of real substance is a no go.

Maybe the British Army of the Rhine could become the British Army of the Vistula?


Well, it was only a suggestion.

Raedwald said...

Timothy - I was there before you


Sadly, I think the British Army only has 16 working main battle tanks left ...

G. Tingey said...

NOT EVEN WRONG, the lot of you.
Except the guy who mentioned Norman Davies.
READ his book: "Vanished Kingdoms" RIGHT NOW.
The Russinas have shat all over UIkraine far too many times in the past (see also the book I jst referred to.
I agree that the "handling" of the unrest in Ukraine by the EU/US was clumsy & stupid ... but:
How many "Western" troops are there in Ukraine, right nopw? Zero.
How many of Putin's unwilling conscripts are in Ukraine right now? Qite a few.
See also ... Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijahn (?) etc.
Putin is trying & re-trying the Sudeten play-book operation, & what used to be called Königsberg will be next, if he gets away with this one & neither Poland nor Lithuania (once, of course a joint kingdom) will be happy bunnies.

TD of US f..N America
You must understand, that we have had a succession of FIVE Prime Ministers who were or are traitors, who have all reduced our defences.
The last one who actually did the right thing was ... Jim Callaghan.

Oh, maybe Demetrius, referring to "Radio Gliewitz" had a point - very scary, though.

Raedwald said...

Uhm, Greg, you need to look at an atlas; Kaliningrad (Königsberg) is already part of Russia and has been since WWII

Anonymous said...

Oh purlease.... if there is to be a war with Russia, missiles don't need wheels.

Especially the nuclear version.

Raedwald said...

Thanks Anon - Astonishing really that in 65 years of NATO defence planning they never thought of that, eh? Tsk, keeping whole armies, armoured divisions, Air groups and the rest all tied up in Germany ...

Cascadian said...

"Sadly, I think the British Army only has 16 working main battle tanks left ..." That many? never mind they have plenty of horses.

Onward, onward rode the six hundred.

Some things never change.

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...


If Britiabn is unable and or unwilling to help Poland then it is Poland's job to look out for their own interests. That will mean keeping Vlad the Invader busy somewhere other than Polish Soil.

That is the real situation. Had the Western Allies actually done something tangible in 39, there might be a difference.

Poland should never trust Britain or France again. They should not trust NATO now. They really should not trust any one other than themselves.

What more can be said?

Anonymous said...

Radders, keeping the people under a veil of 'threat' has been standard practise for many years now and visible detterence such as tanks and armies, plus their attendant national costs, are a great way to prove to the people that their masters have their best interests at heart.

"Shock and awe" is the new war.

We've seen, repeatedly, how costly and ineffective conventional war has proven to be and in a 'real' engagement neither the East nor West would countenance such - especially since the electorate has had a gutful of it recently.
Both sides will keep up the pretence of 'defense' using conventional means - proving to the electorate that they are still the best reason for keeping them in power AND justifying the increasing expenditure - but when it comes to the actual event it'll be decided by who has the fastest trigger finger.

Or the jitteriest.....

Budgie said...

Timothy Davis U.S. said: "Had the Western Allies actually done something tangible in 39 ..."

What "Western Allies" were those then? The British Empire did do something tangible, our (grand/)fathers went to war within days specifically because Poland was attacked, at great cost. Maybe there are different history books in frakken America, but the USA did not enter WW2 until December 1941 when it was itself attacked, not to defend any other country. Even Lend-Lease did not start until March 1941.

As for the situation in the Ukraine, I tend towards Raedwald's analysis - the EU (and the USA) should not have interfered so blatantly directly on Russia's border. The EU oligarchy is in particular filled to satisfaction with its own hubristic inward looking ideology. There feels to me to be a definite German influence to that world view. What a surprise.

G. Tingey said...

"Kaliningrad" is part of Russia - so?
PLEASE, just read Norman Davies book. ok?

TD of USofA etc ..
SLIGHT problem in 1939 - HOW were Britain & France to help Poland, right then?
Fortunately ( & unrecognisedly ) Chamberlain had actually started re-armament & after Munich stepped it up a gear or two, but we weren't really ready when Adolf fired the starting gun ....

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...

Yes, you declared war and then you sat there and did nothing.

For months you did nothing until May of 1940. Then you both went backwards.

Do you wonder why it is prudent for the Poles to keep their own council with "Allies" like you?

Sebastian Weetabix said...

"Kaliningrad is part of Russia - so?"

So you are wrong Tingey, as usual. Now fuck off, there's a good chap.

G. Tingey said...

Kaliningrad is part of Russia (for now)
"Frontiers" & states, for that matter, anywhere between the Oder-Neisse line & at least the Dneipr & possibly the Volga are ... err .. fluid / not permanent.
That is the whole point, which, as usual, you are failing to get.

Now piss of to confessional, why don't you?

TD of USA etc
Wrong, actually - the British army was forced to retreat in 1940, because it's flanks were completely uncovered, when the French collapsed. As for "did nothing" I would suggest you examine the record of the Royal Navy's actions in that period.

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...

And How did what The Royal Navy did between September of 39 and May of 40 help the Polish cause?

It does not matter does it the hows or whys it matters the whats.
The what is, that backwards you went.

The FACT of the matter is, is that while Poland was being obliterated, Britain and France did nothing to stop that obliteration.

Your excuses as to the hows and whys must be of GREAT comfort to all those bodies that used to lay in Katyn.

It is interesting that excuses will be made and defended for the British and that excuses for the Poles are not allowed.

The Poles would not be wise to keep council with the likes of you.

Cascadian said...


Stand back and admire the EU rapid reaction force due to deploy "not until 2016" that is of course if the USA contributes the most money.

Arguing about whether Poland should be a buffer state is pointless, if the Russians take it into their head to invade Europe they could be sitting at the Savoy grill inside a week, without raising a sweat.


Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...

"if the Russians take it into their head to invade Europe they could be sitting at the Savoy grill inside a week, without raising a sweat."

Absolutely not. It IS the Poles job to fight to the death.

maybe Britain could send those 16 Panzers to someone who would actually use them.

Just a suggestion.

G. Tingey said...

TD of USA etc
I take it that the USA will wait until it is forced into action, like 1917 & 1941 & stand to profit greatly from its err "allies" discomfort again?
If you are going to snark - so can I!

Timothy Davis U.S. of frakken America said...

Snark? I do not think I was being snarky.

With the current regime sitting in the halls of power, if you Europeans decide to start another war, I would not count on anyone being forced into action.

Personally, however this sentiment has a strong presence among American Veterans, I would be against intervening in another European War.

NATO membership be dammed. Europe is yours. Deal with the mess you created. Why should I or any United Statesian care which version of socialism you live under?

Just as an afterthought. Could you point to all those war graves of British Soldiers buried on United States soil that died keeping us free?

I would like to pay my respects.