On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, the Alliance Defence College presented three ways to develop the military bloc. The report includes the “good”, “bad” and “terrible” scenarios, and in each of the forecasts, Russia is considered an enemy.
Warsaw has refused Russian offers to take part in the renovation of a World War II museum in Sobibor, under way since 2014. Three separate requests — all made by private Russian institutions — were rejected on spurious grounds and obviously for political reasons. By doing so, Poland is trying to rewrite history and deny Russia’s role in the liberation of Poland in general, and in the history of the Sobibor camp in particular. After all, it was a Red Army officer, Aleksandr Pechersky, who organized the 1943 Sobibor uprising, one of the few successful ones in the history of the Holocaust. Vladimir Putin was not invited to the 70th anniversary event commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, held in Poland in 2015.
The story recycles the charges of "Russophobia" which Russia has levied at Poland since mid-2017, also in connection to Warsaw's alleged sidelining of Moscow from the museum project. The project did not start in 2014, Poland did not exclude Russia from it, and no decisions concerning the engagement of foreign actors were made unilaterally. An August 2017 statement by the Polish Culture Ministry reads that the steering committee responsible for the project (comprising Poland, Israel, Holland, and Slovakia) "took the unanimous decision to continue cooperation in its current membership [emphasis added]," which had remained unchanged since the launch of the initiative in September 2008. In a further comment on Moscow's accusations, Polish Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin said in September 2017: "Had Russia taken an interest in the subject in 2008 or 2009, there would be no problems now." The report does not name the "private institutions" which allegedly met with Poland's refusals, possibly because all three are run by the Kremlin: the Russian Military Historical Society, the Victory Museum, and the suitably named State Central Museum of Contemporary Russian History. Vladimir Putin was invited to the 2015 event in Poland but, according to Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, the invitation was insufficiently solemn and thus "did not merit a response," despite the fact that identical letters had been sent out to all heads of state. Nevertheless, a full Russian delegation was present at the event. Moscow officials were also present at the 2018 event in Sobibor, which specifically commemorated the uprising organized by Pechersky.