Russia-Poland ties: risks remain, but shocks unlikely

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L) at the Hyatt hotel in Warsaw (AFP Photo / KACPER PEMPEL)
Although risks remain, Moscow-Warsaw relations are unlikely to change after Poland’s ruling centrist Civic Platform - led by PM Donald Tusk – won a solid victory in parliamentary elections, believes Russian MP Konstantin Kosachev.

The head of State Duma Committee for International Affairs, Kosachev, recalled that not long ago Russian-Polish relations were “in the zone of risk” because of the US and NATO plans to deploy elements of the missile defense system on the Polish soil.

"Only recently relations between Russia and Poland were in the zone of risk because of the US missile defense plans. The fact that they were not implemented has led bilateral relations out of the risky zone," he said at a videoconference between the two capitals on Monday, cites Itar-Tass.

However, the parliamentarian observed, quite a few risks still remain as some questions still have not been resolved "in the context of relations between Russia and the US and between Russia and NATO."

“We will welcome Poland’s active role in the resolution of these issues,” Kosachev said.

The Russian official believes that if Civic Platform remains in power after the election, the Polish government’s policy will not change. On the contrary, if the opposition Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice party (which ranked second) had won the vote, there would be a step backwards to the situation as it was about five or six years ago in the relations between Russia and Poland.

In the last four years in which Tusk’s government has been in power, a lot more has been done for the relations between the two states than was achieved during the work of the previous government. Moscow is ready to support this latest trend, Kosachev added.

Political analyst Irina Kobrinskaya from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations pointed out that during the rule of Tusk’s Civic Platform, Poland proved to be “a loyal and active member of the EU.” She stressed that it is important not only for Poland and the European Union, but for Russia as well. Moscow will only benefit if such trends continues.

Another expert, Aleksey Makarkin, first vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies, says that with the Civic Platform victory, relations between Russia and Poland will remain pragmatic and are unlikely to get worse.

"Tusk is pragmatic. So one should not expect an exacerbation of the relations with Poland," he told Interfax news agency.

The analyst also noted that Warsaw’s cautious attitude toward Vladimir Putin’s recently-announced plan to run for the presidency in 2012 should not be seen as a factor of worsening relations. In Poland, Russia’s Prime Minister is regarded a critic of the West, he explained.

"However, Warsaw understands that it was Putin who instigated an improvement of the bilateral relations at his meetings with Tusk in Smolensk and Katyn," Makarkin said.

On the whole, he summed up, the relations between Russia and Poland relations will be a barometer of Russia-EU relations.