Kremlin ‘surprised’ about Polish fears over Katyn and Smolensk commemoration

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The Russian Foreign Ministry says it does not understand how anyone in Poland could doubt it would cooperate over the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Smolensk air tragedy and the 80th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz had formally requested assistance from Russia to help organize the commemoration of the anniversaries of both the Katyn massacre and the Smolensk air catastrophe on Feb. 15.

Warsaw had made it clear that both Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were considering attending the commemorations in Russia.

But Warsaw also made clear its fears that Russia might use the occasion to obstruct such a commemoration.

The Russian Foreign Ministry now says it is willing to cooperate. It has also voiced surprise that there were any doubts in Warsaw that it would.

April 10 marks the 10th anniversary of the Smolensk air tragedy that saw President Lech Kaczynski, Poland’s First Lady and 94 other Polish notables perish in a crash near Smolensk Airport.

They were travelling to attend the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which thousands of Polish officers being held prisoner were executed by Soviet Russians on the orders of Stalin.

For decades, the USSR had claimed that the massacre had been committed by Nazi Germany in 1941.

Finally, in the late 1980s, they admitted that the massacre took place in 1940 and had been carried out by the Soviets. In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has attempted to suggest the massacre was the USSR’s revenge for the fact that Poland allowed thousands of Red Army prisoners of war to die in POW camps during the 1920 Soviet-Polish war.

Relations between Poland and Russia have deteriorated following disagreements over the investigation of the Smolensk air tragedy.

Russia has still yet to return the wreckage of the plane and the original black boxes from the aircraft, and limited access to witnesses. In addition, Russia has failed to acknowledge any responsibility from its air traffic control staff.

The Russian have also clashed with Poland over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the invasion of the Donbas and Russia’s attempts to whitewash its part starting the Second World War. Russia has also recently blamed Poland for complicity in the Holocaust.

Polish support for sanctions on Russia, its close relations with the US and opposition to the construction of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline are viewed as major foreign policy challenges by the Kremlin.

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