Shake Hands

Vladimir Putin  and Donald Tusk shake hands in a little forrest near Smolensk. Critically watched by Lech Walesa. Putin goes that far to bend his knees.
That is unheared.
I think I do not have to explain in detail what happened in Katyn (Ger., Eng., german article). What is more interesting in my humble opinion is that Putin stages this very important gesture or act now and what its impact on the relations between Russia and Poland and the EU and the global situation between Russia and the whole of the EU is or can be. Strangely enough euronews only brings a very short notice, similar to the NZZ, that simply acknowledges that something has happened. German newspapers like taz or FAZ bring it as news and according to their political coleur they emphasise on reconciliation or reserve. Only the ZEIT and the BBC cite the former polish secretary of foreign affairs Rotfeld (Ger., Eng.), who interprets the gesture as beginning of the last act of de-stalinization of the Russian society: This would be really tremendous.

On all these pictures and videos I did not see C. Ashton (Ger., Eng.), but I am sure the EU was represented. Of course it is first a bilateral affaire between Poland and Russia, but Poland is a full member of the NATO and, next to Sweden, Poland is leading in developing the European “Eastern Policy”, the “Östliche Partnerschaft” /”Eastern Partnership”. So it has importance for whole Europe when highly symbolic politics are performed in a Russian forrest. In the media the act was outshined by the signing of the latest START-treaty by Russia and the USA. At the festive dinner held in the Hradschin (Ger., Eng.) the American president assured the small Eastern states – non-Russian states that is – that America would keep at its traditional role as supporter of their freedom despite all that easing of tension and possible rapprochement between the superpowers.

Lets allow to get surprised by the combination of nuclear disarmament on international and the policy of detente on bilateral and European level: It is clear that politics are “made” today “in the East” – and “The East” starts somewhere behind Warszawa (Ger., Eng.) and ends on the Pacific coast. The largest part in between is called Russia.

Smolensk, Uman, Winniza … places my grandfather saw in the war, names I heared as a child.

11 thoughts on “Shake Hands

  1. Wow. Needless to say, it did not make the popular news over here.

    I think I’m less worried about Russia’s nukes, and more worried about the unaccounted ones in the former Soviet states that no one over here seems to remember.

  2. Leni Q.
    And you do not get so often Mr. Putin kneeling in the mud – well, they will have put a nice cushion there, but the gesture counts. I saw no official photograph of it! Wonder whether they allowed one.
    The new treaty needs ratification and sets a time window of seven years until something has to be done, really done like put a warhead into the garage and deconstruct it. But it is nevertheless a signal.
    Do not underestimate the “remaining” Russia, it certainly did not sink to the status of a “Mittelmacht” but is still a global player besides America and China.

    I think the Red Army takes care of them. One needs an infrastructure for these weapons-systems and one can not carry them away unattented. Enough people have an interest to put it under survaillance.

  3. The reason it’s heading the news here today is the plane crash – it had previously been reported that the commemoration was happening and we were reminded of the facts, as you quote through your link, but the death of so many Polish VIPs has taken the headlines.

  4. It must be hard for the Russians to be has-beens…which they are in the West.
    Until Ronnie Raygun made them tear down that wall and the USSR crumbled…they were the best “bad guys” since the Nazis. Ot if they could relive the glory days of the Cold War…when Westerners trembled at the mere mention of them.

    Now mad Islamoterrorists are the uber villains and even with enough Nukes to flatten the planet the Ruskies are yesterdays news.

    Weird. Was the world in check when these two were squared off? Probably.
    I felt better about both of the Superpowers avoiding “mutual assured destruction capabilities” than I do about some asshole launching Nukes for a crack at 72 virgins.

  5. This is something about which I know absolutely nothing, but Sarge (who does) and I have been discussing it. Interesting post and comments.

  6. Cheesemeister
    I think outside Europe not too many people have an idea what Katyn means. It is one of the worst Polish traumata. And Polish history is a kind of accident.

    Yes, the president and his inner circle. Blind faith. This comes at a very very unlucky moment.

    Leni Q.

    Ronny? Ronny “made them doing” – what? Die from laughter?
    I have a different opinion about Russia. “Has beens” is in my sight a very one-sided approach. You have to differentiate between the former Union and Russia. And you see a society and a giant stae that adapted to absolutely different circumstances. It is still a world power and defines and invents itself in a way that is reckless, fast and effective. Only comparable to China. As a European citizen I can only watch in awe what happenes there.
    I highly doubt that some religious fundamentalist gouvernement would launch a nuclear weapon – they’d be dust half an hour later. And no one would praise their names. I think the danger is a small dirty bomb carried by a radical into the heart of darkness, like London or NewYork. Or another European capital.

    History never ends, and in a way the war is still not fully ended.

    Polish luck.

  7. Austere – definitely. The emotions of Tusk and Putin were no fake. It is overstated to say that the “whole elite of Poland” died in this airoplane, and one should not forget that the president was a very polarising figure, but this is a chance and both will take it. The relation between these two countries will get better – and that will have an European impact too.
    If Russia can solve her Baltic problems too (but that is not likely to happen in the next ten years) or at least can better the situation there too – what is already under way – this East will flourish.

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