´Polish-Russian / Russian-Polish Rapprochement: A Long-awaited Decisive Move´, CIDOB

Polish-Russian / Russian-Polish Rapprochement: A Long-awaited Decisive Move

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The Russian initiative of a joint commemoration by the Russian and Polish prime ministers of the 70th anniversary of the Katyń massacre on the 7th of April 2010 was a significant step forward in the Polish-Russian historical reconciliation process and a sign of the recent rapprochement between the two countries. It followed a period of less confrontational rhetoric on both sides, driven by a desire for a pragmatic approach to cooperation on practical issues. Three days after the official commemoration of Katyń, the Polish presidential plane crashed in Smoleńsk near Katyń on its way to a second commemoration of the massacre, killing all on board. Those who died included the Polish president and several other high-ranking politicians, severely testing the still fragile ties between Poland and Russia. Poles shocked by a tragedy unprecedented in their modern history were touched by the solidarity gestures and cooperation of the Russian government following the catastrophe. During the early presidential election campaign triggered by the death of President Lech Kaczyński, the anti-Russian rhetoric present in previous elections was absent and the significance of the thaw in Polish-Russian relations was broadly discussed in Poland and abroad. The victory of Bronisław Komorowski, a candidate of the governing Civic Platform party, also seemed to confirm that a majority of Poles had chosen stability in internal affairs as well as continuation of the open and pragmatic policies towards their neighbours, most notably Russia.

While the high profile visit of president Medvedev in Poland this December further validates a new willingness to cooperate through constructive dialogue, Polish–Russian relations remain complex and disagreements between Moscow and Warsaw are apparent at many levels. In addition to unresolved historical issues, there are also strategic conflicts related to energy, security and the future of Poland’s Eastern neighbourhood that will most probably continue to cause frictions in the years to come. Many of these issues do not involve Russia and Poland alone but also concern Russia’s relations with multilateral actors such as the EU and NATO. External factors may thus influence the current rapprochement.


Agnieszka Nowak, Associated Researcher, CIDOB. Irina Kobrinskaya, Institute of World Economy and International Relations (MEMO) Boris Frumkin, Institute of Economics, RAS

Fecha de publicación: 12/2010