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The pressure is coming from Washington, the Poles are rather reluctant.
Then large quantities of oil were poured on the fire by imprudent Polish nationalist leaders, itching to land digs against Russia, who stated that now Russia would think twice before ever attacking Poland where US armed forces would also be stationed.
Huh? That's a provocation?
Russians' relations, for example, with their Slavic cousins in Poland have been troubled for centuries, and for Washington to appear to be taking Warsaw's side
OK, now I see where you're coming from, but really, as good a poet as he was, don't you think you should be basing your views on something more objective and at least a tad more up to date?
he US actions occurred against the background of a highly emotional issue for Russians, namely the Second World War, and the monument to dead Soviet soldiers that the Estonian authorities moved out of Tallinn because they said it was a monument to Soviet domination of Estonia
And if perhaps the Russians were willing to acknowledge that it is also a monument to the brutal imposition of Soviet rule over Estonia, they might get along a bit better with their neighbours. But what do I know, maybe if the Americans stay in Iraq for another forty years, build large war monuments to their soldiers, and then pull out, folks like you will be cheering on American outrage if the Iraqis proceed to tear it down.
Who needs Atlanticists when the 'pro-Russian' Westerners seem to be bent on making sure that Russo-Central European relations remain horrible, that those countries look to to Washington, and regard a more independent and consolidated EU as a serious threat to their security.
The Second World War, however, sucked in participants of every stripe, including some who were not supportive of their respective government. A major unifying factor of postwar Europe was the sacrifice in human life in every country where the war had raged, including in the European perpetrator itself, Germany, where millions of innocent people were among those who endured incredible suffering.
In the aftermath, two age-old enemies, France and Germany, reached out their hands to each other in reconciliation, which, in my opinion, is one of the miracles of the twentieth century. Now, Poles and Russians are neither French nor German, and there's not going to be any reconciliation there anytime soon because there's an overriding element of hysteria in Russian-Polish relations that's not going to go away. An advisor to the White House could easily give tips to the US government about how to send both Russians and Poles into a hysterical tizzy and clawing at each other's throats in order to keep the Kremlin's attention riveted on Poland.
Miniature Estonia is an issue of no less magnitude. It would have been magnanimous of Estonia to leave the Soviet monument in central Tallinn as a poignant reminder of Estonia's bitter past and as a tribute to men who lost their lives in the war fighting for their homes and their families. Moscow, for its part, should have done everything in its power to diffuse the crisis over removal of the monument and the graves it marked. And the Estonian government should have distanced itself long ago from the former SS-men in Estonia who have proudly marched in recent years in their SS uniforms.
It's going to be a very long time before the advent of European unity poses any kind of a challenge to what the US thinks is best for Europe.
Not quite as easy as you suggest. The kinds of measures which calm down the Poles tend to be seen by the Russians as a provocation, most notably NATO membership. Washington could try to pressure the Poles to avoid silly provocative symbolic stuff of the sort the Twins like to engage in, however, they have absolutely zero ability to do the same on the Russian side. Plus it's not always clear if Moscow is able to distinguish between hardline governments and the moderate ones who are interested in better relations.
And while you are correct to say that the knowledge of Soviet atrocities is easily available, it isn't all that well known - e.g. very few Westerners are aware that the Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland was just as brutal as the Nazi occupation was for non-Jews. (Rather ironically, if the folks currently running the show in Moscow had had their way back in the nineties, we'd still be thinking that it was more deadly, but the brief access to NKVD archives showed that to be incorrect)
On the Estonian side, Washington also has the problem that it has zero influence on Moscow. It could try to pressure the Estonians to do things like keep the monument, but that's difficult to accomplish without apologies for both occupations and the atrocities they involved.
In general I'd say that the Russians would be well advised to look at the approach the Poles have taken in their relations with Ukraine. That has involved lots of apologies, long drawn out negotiations over Polish national symbols in Ukraine and how exactly they can be modified in such a way that satisfies Ukrainian sensitivities while keeping them in place, and ignoring things that the Russians would treat as provocations (e.g. the honoring of Ukrainian fascist militias involved in massacring Poles in what is now Western Ukraine). It's a policy that has been followed consistently by not just moderate governments, but also hardline nationalist ones who ignore the screams of outrage that regularly emanate from their own ranks. If a former occupying power wants to have good relations with its ex-victims, that's the way they need to operate.
In general I'd say that the Russians would be well advised to look at the approach the Poles have taken in their relations with Ukraine. That has involved lots of apologies, long drawn out negotiations over Polish national symbols in Ukraine and how exactly they can be modified in such a way that satisfies Ukrainian sensitivities while keeping them in place, and ignoring things that the Russians would treat as provocations (e.g. the honoring of Ukrainian fascist militias involved in massacring Poles in what is now Western Ukraine.
To my mind, however, Germany has pursued one of the most successful foreign policy courses since the war, towards both its neighbors and other countries, including Russia and Ukraine. The announcement by the German chancellor in office at the time that Germany would not participate in America's invasion of Iraq was a stroke of genius. The chancellor's designation of the American operation as a "military adventure" has proven to be prophetic. It's a shame that Poland and Ukraine sent troops.
Germany has actively supported the democratic and economic development of Ukraine along with its integration in European structures. Germany is Kiev's second most important trading partner after Russia, with over 1,000 German companies operating in Ukraine. Germany has also pursued a policy of reconciliation with Ukraine, stressing responsibility for both the destruction of the country by German forces during the war and the suffering they inflicted on the people, including Ukrainian Jews. Germany pays compensation to former Ukrainian slave laborers, and German officials every year take part in a ceremony at Babi Yar to commemorate the victims of the wartime massacre there.
Germany also maintains excellent relations with Russia, and anytime Germans step in help reconcile nations, in East and West, they can count on my applause.
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