Polish president warns Germany of Putin's 'empire' ambitions

BERLIN Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:36am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Polish President Bronis law Komorowski said that Vladimir Putin is trying to build a new Russian empire for Moscow and that the region now had to choose whether it wanted "a Cossack Europe or a democratic one".

"Russia has carried out an invasion in Ukraine," the Polish head of state told German public radio, according to excerpts of an interview to be broadcast later on Saturday.

Komorowski said Putin was quite open about his ambitions to "rebuild the empire". The Cossacks long served Russian czars in military and security roles on the borders of the empire and their brand of Russian Orthodox patriotism is admired by Putin.

The Polish president, whose post is largely ceremonial but does give him a say in foreign policy, is an ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk from the centrist Civic Platform (PO).

"I hope Germans are sufficiently mindful of what a Soviet empire meant for Europe," Komorowski told Deutschlandradio Kultur and Deutschlandfunk, warning against any reprise of the pre-World War Two "appeasement policy of yielding to Hitler".

"First the challenge was Crimea, now it is about further regions of Ukraine and everyone is asking where it will end," he said, reiterating a call from Poland and the Baltic states in particular for NATO's eastern flank to be reinforced.

NATO member Poland is one of the most outspoken critics of Putin's support for pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. This week the rebels opened a new front against government forces, a reversal Kiev blames on the arrival of Russian troops.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (24)
WCTopp wrote:
There’s a difference between empire building and a simple need for lebensraum.

Aug 30, 2014 9:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gentalman wrote:
Sheer supposition and inborn enemity. In this vast world there is space for any one to exist and expand. Every one is interconnected. Old notions and ideologies no more viable.Look at how Russians polar oil under the snow. Russia itself is a very big country with all natural resources. Putin only wants safety against threats surrounding his country. Surely he will go back from Ukraine after amking rebels safe from attack and after Poreshenko call them on table.

Aug 30, 2014 9:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
rewiredhogdog wrote:
With all due respect, one has to remember how deeply the Polish people are still very traumatized by being as a pawn used by Adolf Hitler and Joesph Stalin in the Second World War. So this is just more of the usual hysteria. Putin has his hands full dealing with his annexation of the Crimea and the current crisis in Ukraine. But I understand fully how fearful the Polish people view these events.

Aug 30, 2014 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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