Tuesday

30th May 2017

Polish FM in Wikileaks: Germany is Russia's Trojan horse

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski in a private conversation with US diplomats in 2008 said that Germany protects Russian interests in Nato in return for access to the Russian market.

According to a US cable recently published by Wikileaks, Sikorski, in a conversation with the then US under secretary for global affairs Paula Dobriansky in Warsaw on 23 April 2008 "wryly commented that many accused Poland of being the US Trojan horse in the EU when it joined in 2004, but there is another Trojan horse in Nato".

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The cable went on: "Asked what the US strategy should be towards Germany and Russia, Sikorski responded that Germany appears to have a deal with Russia. 'They'll play with Russia and in return German companies will get hundreds of billions of euros of business there, a pretty good deal'."

Sikorski made the comment after Germany opposed giving Georgia and Ukraine a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at a Nato summit in Bucharest.

The Nato decision came shortly before the Russia-Georgia war in the summer of 2008.

Several commentators later said a positive MAP decision would have prevented the conflict, which ended with Russia occupying two Georgian provinces.

Germany at the time was ruled by a coalition of the centre-right CDU and centre-left SPD parties. The then SPD foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was openly pro-Russian and is a close associate of former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who now works for the German-Russian gas pipeline firm, Nord Stream.

Polish-German and Polish-Russian relations have warmed up in the past two years.

But Germany in March sided with Russia in abstaining on the UN Security Council vote giving Nato a mandate for Libya air strikes.

And Sikorski has a long-established name in EU circles for being outspoken on German-Russian relations.

At a meeting in Brussels in 2006 he compared the German-Russian deal on the Nord Stream pipeline to a secret World War II-era German-Russian pact to carve up Poland.

"Poland has a particular sensitivity to corridors and deals above our head ... That was the Molotov-Ribbentrop tradition," he said.

In 2009 Russian newswire Interfax apologised to the Polish minister for misquoting him as having said that Poland wants US troops to be stationed on its soil to act "as a shield against Russian aggression".

While the quote was incorrect, other cables in the Wikileaks cache indicate that Sikorski's thinking goes precisely along this line.

Speaking to US diplomats in May 2009 on the subject of relocating US soldiers from their Cold War bases in Germany to Poland, the minister said: "As a 'border state' with Russia, Poland feels less secure than other Nato members."

In a cable dated 25 November 2009, he said: "In the event of a Russian attack against Crimea or another part of Ukraine, Poland would find it difficult to stand by. Although he recognised that the probability of such an attack was low, he alluded to Soviet actions in 1956, when Moscow took advantage of US distraction in the Middle East by sending Soviet tanks into Budapest."

In a cable dated 12 November 2009, he "quoted [former US secretary of state] Zbigniew Brzezinski, who observed that what really assured Germany during the Cold War was not [the Nato treaty's mutual defence clause] Article 5, but the presence of 300,000 American troops. Sikorski emphasised that 'We have, at the latest count, six American troops' in Poland, not including US embassy staff in Warsaw".

US cables shed light on EU 'Friends of Russia' in Georgia war

A cache of secret US cables on the 2008 Russia-Georgia war paints a vivid picture of how the EU split into 'Russia-friendly' and 'Russia-hostile' clubs, with German diplomats "parroting" Russian arguments and Latvia suggesting that Nato should consider sending arms to Georgia.

Cablegate: France bullied Poland over Georgia war

France threatened to harm a flagship EU policy for post-Soviet countries shortly after the Russia-Georgia war unless the Union forgave Russia for its invasion, a freshly leaked US cable says.

Georgia to EU: Don't neglect eastern neighbourhood

The EU should move faster on free trade agreements and negotiations for visa-free travel with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, which are 'inexpensive' policies that can be pursued in times of austerity as funding priorities shift to the southern neighbourhood, a Georgian minister has said.

Opinion

Wikileaks proves the case for MEP's immunity

Wikileaks cables have shed new light on the case of Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament Viktor Uspaskich, who was stripped of his legal immunity by the European Parliament last year, writes Graham Watson.

Putin's return poses questions for EU strategy

Germany and Poland have said the EU should co-operate more closely with Russia despite calls by liberal MEPs and the Russian opposition for a confrontational approach.

Opinion

Russia's post-BRIC election

With the results for the Russian parliamentary election almost all counted, it is clear that Vladimir Putin and his party United Russia have received both another landslide victory and a bruising defeat.

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