Cameron’s fantasy about Putin’s Russia

Polish Borders

In February 1945, the leaders of the soon to be victorious allies – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin – gathered in the Livardia Palace in Yalta to thrash out the post-war boundaries in Easter and Central Europe, and the final strategies for the defeat of Germany and Japan. Yalta is in the Crimea.

With the equivalent of about 200 Western divisions on the Eastern Front with the 60 Anglo-American Divisions still to cross the Rhine about 400 miles to the West, Stalin held most of the cards.  His principal objective was to move Germany’s Eastern frontier about 300 miles further west away from the Soviet Union – as represented in the West then by White Russia (now Belarus) and the Ukraine.  The outcome was the White Russian border was moved 200 miles west to the Curzon line, which the British Foreign Secretary (Curzon) at Versailles in 1919 had defined as the proper, ethnically determined Eastern border of the new Polish state.  All of Germany East of the Oder-Neisse rivers was obliterated.

The government of the new Polish state foolishly ignored Curzon and pushed their eastern border well into the Ukraine, where the density of ethnic Poles became progressively lower the further east the border was drawn.  As a result, the new Polish state was unstable, with perhaps 30% of its citizens not wanting to be in it.  At Yalta in 1945, Stalin was determined to put a stop to the argument about borders, so the Curzon line was adopted as Poland’s eastern frontier.  Poland was compensated by taking over all of Germany east of Oder-Neisse, except a bit of former East Prussia around Königsberg (now Kalinagrad) which the Soviets added to the Russian Republic to give it another outlet to the Baltic.

What lessons did Stalin draw from Yalta?

Force on the ground matters more than anything else.  Has anything changed in the Soviet, now Russian, outlook over the last 69 years?  Not if President Putin’s actions over the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine are any indication.

A Russian Story

Leningrad, now known as St Petersburg, endured 16 months of siege in 1941-43 during which time the million plus population endured terrible hardships – death and starvation, few medical supplies, constant bombing and artillery fire – worse than Homs in Syria today.  One evening a worn-out party official/soldier returned from the front to be told his wife had been killed.  Unable to accept this terrible news, he demanded to be taken to the mortuary where bodies were heaped up.  Desperately pulling at one of the heaps, he discovered his wife’s body which he pulled out from under the lifeless pile.  Despite being told she was dead, he demanded that they attached a glucose drip.  Miraculously she came back from the “dead” and like her husband survived the war.  But with all their happiness together, the terrible hardships they had endured meant, in the doctors’ view, that they would never be able to have a baby.  But they kept trying and in 1954 a second miracle happened: a baby boy was born, the same year that Krushchev “gave” the Crimea to Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union).

President Putin

That “miracle” baby was Vladimir Putin.  In later life Putin rose to be head of the KGB in Leningrad, his father’s city.  With the circumstances of his birth, the symbolism of Leningrad’s incredible struggle, and the place of the Crimea in Russian history, should anyone in the West believe that President Putin will ever surrender it to mere words and travel sanctions?

Actions

Write to MPs and newspapers, urging them to desist from campaigns against Russia – a power with the capacity to inflict real damage on Western Europe by restricting gas supplies.  That they might damage themselves will not, with all the capacity of the Russian people to endure suffering, deter them.


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One Response to “Cameron’s fantasy about Putin’s Russia”

  1. J Unikowski says:

    Are you not aware, Horatio, of Soviet brutality on a par with the Nazis including the illegal seizure of Eastern Poland where my late father was born, forcibly incorporated in the now ex USSR? The same occurred with the three Baltic States. How about the Katyn Massacres of Polish Officers, shamefully & cynically ignored by the West for 50 years ’til glasnost? The truth was out there, but the Western leaders preferred to ignore it. Watch the masterpiece film, Katyn by the world famous director Andrzej Wajda, whose father was one of the victims. I’m sure there’s an english translation out there somewhere on the internet.

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