For over 300 years, since the silent Seym, the Russian foreign politics toward Poland has been carried out consequently for the sake of imperial purposes of Kremlin. In practice it meant either complete loss of independence and liquidation of the Polish country or depriving Poland of its sovereignty and subordinating it to Moscow.
These strategic purposes were always realised by the Russians by two basic methods: firstly, by the extermination of these leading elites of Poland which had patriotic attitudes and were realising the policy of the Polish Reason of State and they stood especially on the guard of independence and sovereignty of the Polish Republic; secondly, by creating their own pro-Russian leading elites in Poland, that is, those Poles who would carry out the policy of the Polish Republic in accordance with the interest of Moscow, under the pretext of cooperation, friendship and reconciliation between Poland and Russia. The timeless symbol of these Polish political elites, on the service of Russia, is Targowica confederation. It may not have any, even very indirect connection with the reasons for the national catastrophe on 10 April 2012 at Smolensk. But in any report on the death of President Lech Kaczyński, the whole leadership of the Polish Army and a significant part of the leading elite of the Polish Republic, it is impossible to avoid a key question: what country has Russia been to Poland for 300 years? It is a fundamental issue whether and how we will define Russia – one day tsar’s one, then the Soviet one and at present Russia of President Putin.
A prison for the world
These are four basic options. Russia for Poland is a neighbour, a bad neighbour, enemy and an immemorial enemy. In Europe in XVIII century Russia was defined as a ‘Cossack’s empire’ and in XX century it was named a gendarme of Europe and the biggest prison of the world. The great President of America, a friend of John Paul II and Poles – Ronald Reagan named the Soviet Russia ‘an empire of evil’. Later, he explained précisely what he had on his mind, defining Russia in this way: ‘Instead of peace – war, instead of freedom – captivity, instead of the truth – a lie’. Marshal Józef Piłsudski – the defender of Poland and Europe, a winner in the battle over the Red Army on 15 August 1920 wrote: ‘There is no just Europe without independent Poland on its map. (...) The significance of Polish movements for Europe is a creation of historical conditions which gave Poland – the country culturally connected with the West Europe – into the hands of Russia, which has been a constant support of the reaction since it joined the historical arena. (...) Our fight against Russia is a fight between two completely different worlds. On the one hand, a wild, barbaric Asia is forcing its way into our life with a complete unscrupulousness, cruelty and slavery, and on the other hand – there is a movement against it which is European in its whole meaning and is based on breaking the shackles restricting the development of humanity, and on eliminating even the traces of captivity and man’s rule over another man. So there must be a fight for death and life between them’. From the perspective of 10 April 2010, when at Smolensk near Katyń the elite of the Polish Republic with President Lech Kaczyński was killed in the national catastrophe – the most timeless definition of Russia seems to be inscribed in the Polish national drama, which is undoubtedly ‘Kordian’. The Russian land is a ‘corpse’ for Poles – Juliusz Słowacki writes in a thrilling poetic vision of Russia:
(...)ask a seagull flying from Siberia,
How many people are groaning in mines? And how many were slaughtered?
And how many were transformed into traitors and defiled
And all of us were tied
To a corpse with a string
For, this land is a corpse
A special kind of a historical testimony was left by President of the Polish Republic Lech Kaczyński, defining geopolitical defeats and tragedies, which Moscow had been preparing for Poles in a critical period of the so-called the cold war: ‘The Soviet empire was in offensive. When it seemed that this empire would govern Europe and the world, Colonel Kukliński began his lonely fight and won a victory. If the Soviet empire had set off against Europe – Poland would have stopped existing. And it is a measure of merits of the colonel Kukliński – we exist. We have still unsettled compensations of our harms (with Russia), but we exist’.
A Russian definition of Poland
A far-reaching, strategic and imperial purpose of the Russian policy in Europe has been political incapacitation or gaining control over Poland for the last 300 years since the beginning of XVII century, until liquidation of the independent Polish country. Poland and Poles were often mentioned here in connection with it and defined by Russian politicians of the highest rank, the leaders of the Orthodox Church and famous writers and Russian poets. All these definitions were evidently anti-Polish, like anonymous definition of Poland from the second half of XVII century: ‘Polskaja blad Rimskogo Papy’. This definition, unworthy of translation, became a generally known in the Soviet Union again after the year 1978, when Karol Wojtyła was elected a pope who the Russians have never let arrive to Moscow!
Tsar Peter I – named the Great by the Russians – the creator of the Russian empire in 1709 and an implacable enemy of Poland; he was in the Polish Republic several times. It was Peter I who caused the loss of the state sovereignty by Poland for the sake of Russia in 1717 (the silent Seym). For, the tsar realized the geopolitical significance of Poland in Europe very well. He explained précisely in a generally known saying in Russia till now: ‘Poland is a bridge for Russia to Europe, and the Baltic Sea is our window to the world’. The timeless current significance of this definition of Poland is striking to everybody. ‘Kurica – nie ptica, Polsza – nie zagranica’. It has been the most known, popularized and accepted definition of Poland for over two hundred years. It has a character of a special kind of a joke and in a political sense it has a timeless justification of depriving Poland of its sovereignty by successive rulers of Kremlin, both by tsars’ Russia, the Soviet Russia and Russia of Putin. A free translation of the Russian saying is cynical: Poland is not abroad for Russia like a chicken is not a bird but food. Formally, chicken is a bird and Poland is a foreign country but in reality it is not! The authorship of this cynical definition is attributed to the Foreign Minister of Russia the duke Nikita Panin. It was just Panin who as a minister of the tsar’s wife Catherine II was executing the partitions of Poland and liquidation of its independence.
Regaining independence by Poland in 1918 was unacceptable for the Soviet Russia. In October (!) 1918, one of the most important Bolshevik commissioners – Stalin defined the reviving Polish Republic as ‘Polish partition between Russia and Europe’ which should be destroyed, as it separates the Russian revolution from the European revolution. The prime minister of the Russian government and a communist dictator Vladimir Lenin proclaimed a famous motto for the aggression of the Red Army: ‘Come on towards the West! Through the corpse of the white Poland to the heart of Europe!’ This motto was generally repeated by the Bolshevik propaganda, all leaders and soviet commissioners till the defeat on 15 August 1920 when their strategic plans of conquer collapsed near the Vistula. During his speech at a closed meeting of the Russian government in Kremlin (20 September 1920), a few weeks after the defeat at Warsaw, Lenin, as the prime minister, aware of the lost war, said among the others: ‘The Polish war was the most important turning point not only in the policy of the Soviet Russia, but in the policy of the whole world. (...) Germany was overwhelmed by the revolutionary turmoil, and the proletariat of England ascended onto a completely new revolutionary level. Everything was ready to take there, but Piłsudski and his Poles caused a gigantic and unprecedented defeat of the matter of the worldly revolution. (...) However, we will move from defensive to offensive strategy in the future, constantly – till we have killed Poles for good!’
Lenin was a Bolshevik dictator, prime minister of the government of the Soviet Russia, murderer and genocide – a creator of the system of concentration camps Gulag, but he is adored as a communist idol by the majority of the contemporary Russians. Therefore his political testament (secret till the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991), is acknowledged also in Russia of XXI century as a strategically timeless. In the testament of Lenin we can read about Poland, among the others: ‘Independent Poland is not a big danger for us. (...) We will seize Poland anyway, when an hour comes. (...) We can always unite the whole Russian nation against Poland, and we can even become allies with Germany. (...) Everywhere Germany is out helper and a natural ally. For the time being our interests are common. Germany will get separated and it will become our enemy on the day when we will want to get convinced whether a new German hegemony or communist European union will appear on the ruins of Europe. The significance of Poland for Russia was defined in the most precise and shortest way by the biggest murderer, criminal and genocide in the history of the world – Józef Stalin: ‘It is Poland, not Germany which is our biggest booty of war in the history’. Circumstances as well as the place and date of the speech by the communist dictator of the empire of evil are very essential. Namely, Stalin pronounced this sentence just after the end of the Second World War in June 1945 in Kremlin in a famous Vladimir Hall. It was during a ceremony of awarding medals to two thousand most important marshals and generals of the Soviet Army, a day before Stalin’s leaving for the conference of the ‘Big Three’ to Poczdam where finally the fates of the world, Europe and Poland were decided after the end of the Second World War.