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22 Jul, 2023 11:22

Poland fumes over Putin’s ‘Stalin gift’ comment

The Russian leader earlier recalled that Warsaw “acquired substantial territory in the west” courtesy of the Soviet Union
Poland fumes over Putin’s ‘Stalin gift’ comment

The Polish prime minister has lashed out at Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that the country received its western territories thanks to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Mateusz Morawiecki added that Warsaw was summoning the Russian ambassador in protest.

Speaking at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Friday, Putin recalled that the Soviet Union liberated Poland from the Nazi occupation during WWII, and said it was thanks to Stalin that Warsaw “acquired substantial territory in the West” after Germany’s defeat.

“It is a fact that Poland’s Western lands are a gift from Stalin,” the Russian leader stressed.

In response, Prime Minister Morawiecki labelled the late Soviet leader a “war criminal guilty of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Poles.”

“Historical truth is indisputable. The ambassador of the Russian Federation will be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Poland’s modern borders were largely formed in 1945 after it gained a large portion of Germany’s territory, including part of Eastern Prussia, and most of Pomerania and German Silesia, with a majority of the local German population forcibly deported.

Warsaw received the land in exchange for agreeing to cede its eastern territories to the Soviet Union, including the Lviv, Vilnius and Brest Regions, captured by Moscow in 1939 as the Polish army crumbled under the Nazi onslaught. All decisions on the territorial changes were approved by the Western allies and the USSR at the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences. At present, the regions belong to Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania.

In recent months, however, senior Russian officials have suggested that Poland intends to capitalize on the conflict between Moscow and Kiev and claim the western part of Ukraine.

On Friday, Putin said Warsaw “probably hopes to form a coalition under the NATO umbrella in order to directly intervene in the conflict in Ukraine and to bite off as much [territory] as possible.” However, he signaled that if Kiev were to “relinquish or sell something to pay their bosses” as payment for Western assistance, Russia “will not interfere.”