“Given the difficult situation between Russia and Poland, I think this remark was not exactly helpful,” says Marcin Zaborowski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw, Poland. His remark indicates how volatile a recent improvement in the Polish-Russian relations, marred by decades of animosities, still is.
After the end of the Cold War, Poland, along with other former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe, was keen to join Western alliances like NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development against the wish of Russia. Poland has proved to be a loyal supporter of America’s foreign agenda, sending troops to the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and playing a part in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.
Romney’s schedule in Poland seems designed to stress historical ties: Visiting the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdansk, the site where the first battle of World War II was waged, and meeting former president and trade union leader Lech Walesa, the hero of the Polish anti-communist movement in the 1980s.
Romney hopes to tap into Polish frustrations with President Obama who scrapped the plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe in 2009 originally devised by the Bush administration. Mr. Obama’s attempt to “reset” US relations with Russia, a process initiated to ease mounting tensions over the defense shield, started “with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic,” Romney said last week.