muzikarova2_ Beata ZawrzelNurPhoto via Getty Images_poland eu nato Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Poland’s Ukrainian Rehabilitation

Poland has used Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to improve its international standing and lobby effectively for Central and Eastern European interests. But to be taken seriously, it must defend democratic values and freedoms at home with the same resolve that it has shown in standing with Ukraine.

BRATISLAVA – Russia’s war against Ukraine has been reshaping European politics. The former Soviet bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe – all now members of the European Union and NATO – have proved to be a major force in shaping the West’s strategy for preserving Ukraine as an independent nation-state. And none more so than Poland.

When discussions about imposing a price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil stalled last fall, it was Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia that the United States lobbied to break the impasse. These governments had dug in their heels to demand an even lower price (of $30 per barrel), in order to cut more deeply into the Kremlin’s oil revenues. Then, at the start of this year, US Treasury officials turned to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland again, to see what maximum price level they would accept for additional caps on Russian refined petroleum products.

Before the war, Poland and the Baltic states were often portrayed as being irrationally intransigent when it came to dealing with Russia. Owing to their memory of Russian imperialism, occupation, and oppression, they had long exhibited a “Russia realism,” in stark contrast to the pragmatic, economically-minded stance of Germany and France.

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