Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at his blog
A reader, SunriseState, has recently posted the following question in the comments section: “what would you say is the most optimal Russian strategy vs Poland?“. When I read it I thought “now that is an interesting question indeed!”. Today I will try to answer it, going step by step.
First, a diagnosis.
There is a Polish syndrome. We can ascribe all sorts of causes for it, some will describe the Poles look as heroic victims, others as greedy hyenas, but for our purposes we don’t even need to dwell into history to list a series of symptoms which, when taken together, we could call the “Polish Syndrome”:
- Phobia (hatred and fear) for Russia and everything Russian.
- A strong desire to be “part of the West” (as opposed to an imaginary “despotic Asia”) while in reality having little or nothing in common with the said “West”
- A deep and bitter resentment at having been militarily defeated over and over again and a subsequent hope for a grandiose revanche.
- A deep seated inferiority complex towards both the East and the West as lyrically expressed in the Ukrainian slogan “let us drown the Poles in Russian and Jewish blood!“.
- A dream of finally submitting the Orthodox Church to the Papacy (or, in its latest iteration, to “consecrate Russia to the immaculate heart of Mary“)
- A deep insecurity about itself resulting in a neverending policy of finding external allies, including Hitler, to take on the “big guy”.
- A willingness to say anything and do anything to get the external ally to extend protection, threaten Russia or, even better, participate in a long-awaited “march on Moscow”.
Again, whether this is a result of centuries of Russian oppression, imperialism, violence and persecutions or the result of the Papist ideology makes absolutely no difference for our purposes.
Also, when we look at the various symptoms of our “Polish Syndrome” we immediately see that it is not unique to Poles or Poland – the Ukrainians, especially the western Ukrainians, display all the same characteristics as their Polish neighbors (as do the Balts, but they are too small, weak and irrelevant to be included here). The syndrome we are looking at is therefore not really a “Polish” one, but an East European one, but calling it “East European” would also be incorrect. So, for our purposes, I will simplify and call it the “Pilban Syndrome” (PBS) in honor of the two “great heroes” of the Polish and West Ukrainian nationalists: Jozef Pilsudski and Stepan Bandera.
Second, a prognosis
Friends, the Pilban Syndrome is here to stay. For one thing, we are dealing with a syndrome with deep historical roots. Second, years of Communist rule followed by a sudden collapse of the Soviet Empire gave this syndrome a huge boost. Third, the AngloZionist Empire, especially in its current position of rapid decline, will allocate a great deal of resources to keep the PBS alive and well. Finally, the abject failure of the AngloZionist policies in the Ukraine and the subsequent civil war will probably lead to a break-up of the Ukraine, in one form or another, and that will also greatly contribute to the vitality of the PBS. I would also add that while right now Poland is enjoying a much hoped for “minute of fame” (being useful to the Empire against Russia) this pipe dream will also come crashing down sooner rather than later, and that inevitable collapse with also result in a sharp rise of the PBS. Bottom line is this: the PBS is here to stay and Russians would be naive in the extreme to hope that it will just vanish.
Third, a warning
There is nothing, absolutely nothing which the Russians could do to try to minimize the severity of the PBS. It is absolutely crucial to understand that the PBS is deeply ideological in its nature and causes. To think that some kind of action (short of collective national suicide, of course) would appease those suffering from PBS is delusional. The Ukrainian case, in particular, will show that even if Russians give them loans, credits, favorable trade terms, security guarantees, etc. the Ukrainian nationalists will see that as a devious plan to try to entrap or otherwise deceive the Ukrainians. If tomorrow the Kremlin decided to send truckloads of gold to the Ukraine or Poland, they would accept it, of course, but as soon as the last truck crossed the border the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists would resume their usual mantras about “Poland/the Ukraine not perishing yet” (they both have these paranoid words in their essentially similar national anthems) along with their usual policies.
Fourth, the big question
The big question is this: how do you deal with such hate-filled lunatics when they are your neighbors? From a Russian point of view, these neighbors are constantly shifting their position on a spectrum roughly ranging between “minor pain in the ass” to “existential threat”, so this is nothing trivial. If history has taught the Russians anything is that every single time Russia was weak the Poles invaded. Every time. The Ukrainian case is very different, since there never was any “Ukrainian state” in history. However, since the Ukrainian nationalists display exactly the same PBS symptoms as their Polish brothers, we can assume that they too will wait for Russia to be weak (for whatever reason) to attack; in fact, the current *official* statements of the leaders of the Nazi junta in Kiev more or less promise to do exactly that). Russia has tried all sorts of strategies with Poland, ranging from outright partitioning, to the granting of special rights, to a naive hope that a common stance against Nazi Germany would yield some degree of, if not brotherhood, then at least civil neighborly relations. They all failed. Clearly, a new approach is needed.
Fifth, the obvious solution
Okay so we have established that the PBS is incurable, that it is here to stay, that the Russians cannot meaningfully affect it and that past policies have all failed. So what does that leave? It leaves one obvious solution:
Do nothing. Have no policy. Give up. Ignore them. Bypass them.
The first principle of medicine is “above all do no harm”. I will argue here that any Russian policy towards PBS suffering states will do harm and only make things worse. However, doing absolutely nothing will yield huge advantages for Russia. Think of it. Doing nothing
- Gives the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists the least excuses to focus on an imaginary external threat and forces them to have to look inside, at their own internal problems. Considering that we are dealing hate-filled ideologues and deluded politicians, they will all turn on each other like rats in a cage.
- Makes it possible for Russia to combine a pragmatically efficient stance with a morally correct one: no matter how hate filled and delusional Polish and Ukrainian nationalists are, it is not for Russians to judge them, educate them or otherwise deny them their freedom to live in whatever manner they choose to. Let them build the society they want, let them keep on barking at Russia like a small dog would do behind the “NATO fence”, and let them pursue their “western dream” to their heart’s content.
- Makes it possible for Russia to allocate much needed resources where it matters, where Russian money, sweat and blood can yield a real return on investment. Ignoring the PBS-states will initially cost Russia some money, true, but in the mid-to-long term it will save Russian billions of Rubles.
However, when I say “do nothing” I refer only to policies which actually involve expectations that if Russia does “X” the Polish or Ukrainian nationalists will do “Y”. An example such mistaken policies would be to expect the Poles to buy Russian LNG gas if Russia offers better prices. It ain’t gonna happen – give it up, Vlad!
What Russia must do, as a condition of the “do nothing” policy, is to craft a new policy towards PBS states composed exclusively of unilateral actions. What do I mean by that?
First, Russia must secure her own security in military, economic and political terms. Russians must look at PBS states the way the Dutch look at the North Sea: they know that if their dams break, the waters of the North Sea will immediately break and submerge a large part of the Dutch territory. Dutch flood control never assumes that the waters of the North Sea will act differently, that somehow they could be convinced to not flood. No, for the Dutch it is simple to the extreme: if our levees break, the North Sea will flood us. And, here is the key, the Dutch don’t resent the North Sea for that. Same for Russians: they should not resent the Polish or Ukrainian nationalists, they just need to make darn sure that the Russian levees (the Russian armed forces) don’t break, that’s all.
Second, Russia must completely de-couple her economy from any PBS state. Yes, this is also what the nationalists want. So let’s give it to them! Let’s bring the Russian trade and investment into PBS states to exactly zero. Modern technologies make it very simple to bypass these countries and the North Stream is the best proof that Russia and Germany can do business together without involving the crazies between them. To those who would say that this sounds extreme, I would reply that if Russia had not allowed Polish Air Force Tu-154 to fly to Smolensk all the crazy shit we witness today would not have happened. Why interact with somebody who will always blame you for everything? This makes no sense. I would even withdraw Russian representations from these countries and kick their diplomats out of Russia (have the Swiss to be the representatives, like the USA with Iran or Cuba). Why? Because if tomorrow the Polish ambassador to Moscow is killed while crossing at a dangerous intersection or slips in his bath tub, the Poles will immediately declare that the “KGB” (does not exist since 1991 but nevermind that) has killed him. Who needs this kind of crap? Nobody I think. So I say decouple everything which can possibly be de-coupled, give the nationalists their dream and let Russia enjoy some much needed peace and quiet on her western borders.
Third, keep non-governmental ties open. Cultural ties, small business kind of trade, tourism, etc. There is no need to build any walls (besides, the Ukrainians and Latvians are already doing that, if not very effectively), or be nasty in any way to the regular Poles or Ukrainians. If on the government level Russia should always maintain a “thanks, but we are not interested” stance, on the human level Russia should remain open and welcoming to the Polish and Ukrainian people. The truth is that there are still some mentally sane Poles and Ukrainians who clearly see through the ideological nonsense of their leaders and who far from being russophobic often have a real appreciation for things Russian. Why make them pay for the behavior of their leaders? Russia would be much better off trying to do her utmost to make these people feel welcome in Russia and to show that her stance towards the PBS infected nationalists does not extend to mentally sane people. However, Russia also needs to stop pretending that all is well and for that she needs to officially declare that henceforth her policy towards PBS-regimes will be no policy at all.
I think that what I am suggesting is simple, straightforward, cheap, safe, morally correct and eminently doable. Yes, of course, to some degree this will be undiplomatic since it will require to officially acknowledge that Russia does not want to deal with PBS-infected regimes at all. Since I am not a diplomat (thank God!) I can say something here which Russian diplomats really cannot: most Russian feel a deep sense of disgust and contempt for the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists and it is high time that Russian diplomat and decision makers stop pretending otherwise.
For centuries the Russian leaders have always looked at the West as the most important strategic direction and that is understandable as objective geographic and economic factors of that time made the West far more important than the South or the East (and nevermind the North). But this is changing right now, very rapidly. In truth, both the EU and the US are increasingly becoming irrelevant to Russia whose future is in the South, the East and even the North. The good news is that Putin and his key ministers all see this (and this is why, unlike what we saw in the West, for Russia the big events of the G20 was Putin’s meeting with Xi). Central Asia, the Middle-East, the Indian sub-continent, China, Siberia and the Arctic – these are the regions were the future of Russia will be decided and where Russian is investing most of her human and material resources. One thing the Ukrainian nationalists are absolutely correct about: while geographically located in what is considered “Europe” the Russian nation (as opposed to the Russian ruling elites) is much closer to her neighbors in the South and East than to the so-called “West”. It is high time for the Russian people to return to their real, historical, home: the immense Eurasian landmass.
If we look at the internal components of the AngloZionist Empire, then we can see that for Russia the USA will continue to matter the most, then the European Union, but already much less, and then the PBS-states which are basically irrelevant to Russia. Russia can therefore *easily* afford to comprehensively ignore the PBS-states as long as she keeps her military strong enough to deal with any possible attack or military provocation coming from the West (which the Russian military can easily do).
One more thing: it is a sad reality that the USA are becoming more and more PBS-infected, courtesy of the Neocons and their visceral russophobia (UN Nikki has just declared ““we can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.”). Clearly, the USA is no Poland and Russia cannot afford to simply ignore them. But as long as this is done carefully, progressively and, above all, quietly, Russia can, and should, begin decoupling herself not only from the USA as such, but from the entire US-controlled international financial system moving her assets and investments towards the obvious alternative: China and the rest of the Eurasian landmass.
In conclusion, I will say that what I outline above is what I think is already happening before your eyes. Not as much as I wish, not as fast as I wish, but it is happening, the fastest with the Ukraine, the slowest with the USA. But it is happening. And thank God for that!
IMPORTANT NOTE: When I speak of the Ukraine, I am referring only to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine, not Novorussia or Crimea. Those I consider as Russian people and land.