The G7 and NATO summits determine what happens with Ukraine
The U.S. and Polish concepts clash with the Berlin-Paris ones.
wPolitice.pl talks with Min. Witold Waszczykowski
“It doesn’t surprise me that Macron can survive any humiliation, with Putin’s boorish, disrespectful language, replying to him that he is now in the gym and then going to play field hockey and sending him back to his advisers. France and Germany have no alternative plan ‘B’ on how to maintain their leadership and hegemony in the European Union,” said the former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Law and Justice Party MEP – Mr. Witold Waszczykowski, in an interview with the wPolityce.pl web portal.
wPolityce.pl: The French television station – France-2 – will soon broadcast a documentary on Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic actions in the context of the war in Ukraine. It published a transcript of the French president’s conversation with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin four days before Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Although a boisterous tone toward Macron and the Russian satrap’s accusations against Ukraine and President Zelenskiy prevail, the French president also has harsher moments in the conversation. He eventually pleaded with Putin to “not give in to provocations,” asserting that he had a disciplinary discussion with Zelenskiy, urged the Ukrainian leader to calm down, etc. Does this material shed new light on what we already know, among other things, from the French president’s statements about Putin “saving face”?
Witold Waszczykowski: I recently spoke about the “Munich betrayal syndrome” in an interview. I wonder if this strenuous desire to get along with Putin expresses naivete? Probably not very much. On the other hand, if one recalls that the French intelligence services failed to predict the aggression against Ukraine and Macron fired their head, there may be an element of naivete and ignorance in all this. I am more inclined to think that the French and the Germans would like to see Europe run by some superpower conglomerate. They are probably used to the politics of the 18th-19th century; hence they treated the European Union instrumentally. What matters to them more is hegemony. And since they cannot achieve this hegemony on their own, they must do it in cooperation with Russia, especially with its resources: cheap gas, cheap oil, and the possibility of still being on the market to sell some of their products.
They are terrified by the vision of a Europe without Russia. They face competition from new countries in the European Union. Many do not realize that German-Polish trade exceeds Germany’s trade with Russia, that Germany’s trade with the Visegrad Group exceeds its trade with France, and that we are competing for those economies. Therefore, one must grasp various solutions to maintain the dominant position. That is why on the one hand, they try to limit the functioning of the E.U. (hence the directives supported by Macron, to restrict the freedom of movement of the population, and the flow of services, which hits our drivers, craftsmen, builders, plumbers, etc.), and on the other hand – to look for an external partner. To some extent, this partner may be China as a significant market where one can earn money and order parts or components cheaply, but the closest such partner would only be Russia.
It doesn’t surprise me that Macron can survive any humiliation. Putin’s boorish, disrespectful language, replying to him that he’s in the gym now and then going to play field hockey and sending him back to his advisors. The French have no alternative plan to maintain their leadership and hegemony in the European Union.
In this context, we also have ideological attempts to fight against conservative ideas, use left-wing circles, gender, and so on, and even attract migrants to change the social structure. It all comes together. So it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t need Ukraine for anything. In fact, it bothers them; they would love to divide it, even establishing some kind of a ‘condominium’ structure over our part of Europe and quietly rule the whole continent.
Will Germany’s and France’s stance on the war in Ukraine and subsequent information on the subject, such as the talks mentioned above, finally dispel the false alternative that any criticism of Germany and France, of the policies of Angela Merkel, Olaf Scholz, or Emmanuel Macron, should automatically mean support for Putin?
No, that will still work. They will argue: see, criticizing Russia, and imposing sanctions, is too costly for us. The Munich Conference had the same scenario. Suddenly it was a matter of recognizing minor border corrections in the Sudetenland and granting rights to the German-speaking population. It was all about trifles, and in any case, this is how it was presented to Europe. It’s similar today: “Ukraine has 600,000 kilometers, it’s twice as big as Poland, and if only the borders are equalized, and Ukraine loses the Russian-speaking territories, it will still remain a big country.
I am worried about another thing. Currently, the issue of the so-called Suwałki Gap is repeated in the media and among analysts. This is not a new issue; it was raised already in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, when Kaliningrad became an enclave outside Russia. At that time, people were talking about this corridor/gap, but then it was rather an economic issue, transport of people, food, etc. Today people do not talk about “the corridor” anymore. Today they no longer say ‘corridor’ but ‘gap,’ i.e., a passage along the Polish-Lithuanian border from Belarus to Kaliningrad. Do you think that if the Russians did that or even occupied Suwałki, anyone in Paris would want to die for Suwałki? The 1939 chant “we won’t die for Danzig” would be repeated.
Suppose the Russians raise the issue of the Belarus-Kaliningrad corridor. In that case, I am convinced that in Paris and Berlin, there will be people who will appeal to the Lithuanians and to us that this problem should be solved because it is a humanitarian issue, a problem of Russian access to their territory in Kaliningrad. Especially when Finland and Sweden join NATO, people will start to argue that the Russians should be given some kind of compensation, for example, access to Kaliningrad. And then the pressure will be put on us to be friendly to understandable Russian demands. So when I see the behavior of Macron and Scholz, I think it could be even worse.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there has been frequent talk about the need for a unified Western stance. Can we talk about such unanimity in a situation where the two most prominent E.U. players are pursuing unclear policies towards Russia and Ukraine?
I think this week may show us a lot because both at the G7 summit and later at the NATO summit, we will observe a clash of two concepts: the American-Polish concept, according to which Russia must be defeated, and the German-French idea, which says that it is enough for Russia not to win the war.
The former means giving enormous military aid to Ukraine. The latter- is that some part of Ukrainian statehood must be saved, so Russia does not feel like a total winner over Ukraine. And that means small arms deliveries to Ukraine, just so it can keep what it has but not regain what it has lost. In other words: the Berlin G7 summit and the Madrid NATO summit, which began today, will bring the answer to the question of what will happen to Ukraine. Will it get enough weapons to retake its territories and win the war, or just enough to hold Kyiv and Kharkiv and what is not yet occupied by Russia?
And isn’t what is being manifested in the attitude of Germany and France, if only the discrepancy between declarations and actual assistance, in the case of Chancellor Scholz – outright lying not only to Ukraine but also to the public in their own country, certain hypocrisy?
It is not hypocrisy; it is their plan for hegemony in Europe using Russian resources. Instead, the problem lies in the fact that Berlin and Paris have no plan “B” on how to maintain their dominance in Europe and the power of their economies without Russian gas and oil.
You say that the G7 and NATO summits will be decisive. Still, after Macron, Draghi, and Scholz visited Kyiv, there were reports that the leaders behind closed doors tried to convince President Zelenskiy to negotiate peace with Putin, even at the cost of concessions to Russia. And even then, opinions could be heard: “What could be wrong with peace negotiations? Could it be that in this “fatigue” with this war, Macron and Scholz managed to convince the people of Europe, the West, that by inducing Ukraine to make concessions they did something good, and brought about peace?
These leaders said that they would talk. There was even a plan by Prime Minister Draghi to share the concessions somehow to stop the war. All of this indicated that through talks with Russia, they want to put pressure on Ukraine to stop, step down, and get back to doing business with Russia as soon as possible. They don’t think about how much Ukraine might lose because they don’t need Ukrainian grain and the other resources that they would need, Ukraine doesn’t have. And everything else that the Germans, Italians, or French need to maintain the power of their economies, Russia has. Hence, they care more about keeping relations with Russia than the functioning of Ukraine and its independence. This has to be said brutally, but I have emphasized this for many months.
If even the leaders of Germany or France don’t care much about Poland’s position, it seems that the role of the United States does. And U.S. President Joe Biden indicated during his conversation with Chancellor Scholz before the start of the G7 summit that the West must stick together, and Putin will not succeed in breaking its unity. Will President Biden influence Scholz and Macron’s attitudes, or do the two visions diverge too much?
I think this duel will play itself out right now. We will see in the coming days whether Biden’s and Poland’s concept of defeating Russia wins or rather this French-German-Italian pressure that it’s enough for Russia not to win, nor to rout Ukraine. If the latter idea wins, the war will be frozen at some stage, and France and Germany will be able to return to cooperation with Russia.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Interview by Joanna Jaszczuk
For the Polish language original link, see: https://wpolityce.pl/swiat/604257-waszczykowski-szczyty-g7-i-nato-rozstrzygna-o-losie-ukrainy