When Western leaders discuss sanctions against Russia, they usually mention Crimea, Ukraine and Syria as a series of unacceptable international crimes committed by Putin’s imperialist Russia. Sometimes Georgia is mentioned, rarely Chechnya is recalled, but the events of April 10, 2010 in Smolensk never brake through to the official list of accusations against Putin’s Russia. This conspiracy of silence on Smolensk is the result, inter alia, of the infamous reset policy, which has already gone to the dumpster of history in disgust, but left profound scars on contemporary consciousness of the West.
This is why the Western world is still shaking to its core any time the Polish Minister of Defense Antoni Macierewicz at international venues decidedly adds the Smolensk tragedy to the list of Russian crimes, thereby reminding the West that the Smolensk crash occupies the key position in the chain of international wrongdoings committed by Putin’s regime. For that, Minister Macierewicz is brutally attacked and ridiculed by the media, and the subject of Smolensk that has become Europe’s pangs of conscience is effectively muted to the delight of Moscow, Berlin and Brussels.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy, the Polish National Prosecutor’s Office, an institution totally independent of the Ministry of Defense led by Minister Macierewicz, issued a formal statement that, based on in-depth research and extensive analysis of evidence collected, Poland brought charges against the Russian flight controllers from Smolensk for deliberately causing the crash of TU 154-M on April 10, 2010.
The Polish press from the left and the right of political spectrum diligently reported the National Prosecutor Office’s statement. While awaiting directives, the usual defenders of the Russian version of the crash resorted to a reliable propaganda bite, asking ironically how much money the prosecutors got for producing such information. The trolls of the steel-plated birch tree immediately began brutal personal attacks on prosecutors who caused cognitive havoc in the minds of the Polish people, while most of the Poles held their breath. Everyone in Poland knows that the 7th anniversary of the Smolensk drama is to bring a new wave of painful information concerning this national tragedy.
Perhaps because of this moment, the significance of the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office has not been fully absorbed by the public. Yet, the change in legal classification of the charge against the Russian flight controllers in Smolensk from unintentionally to intentionally causing the crash of the Polish Air Force One is of tremendous importance both nationally and internationally. Intentional act of causing a crash in which the leadership of Poland was wiped out, including Central Command of the Polish Armed Forces that was part of NATO’s command structure, by external forces such as Russia, was an act of war that constituted the basis for invoking Art. 5 of the Treaty of Washington – the cornerstone of NATO. This clause was invoked by the United States following the September 11, 2001 attack on WTC.
However, the recent statement of the Polish National Prosecutor’s Office, issued on behalf of the Republic of Poland, comes with a considerable delay of seven-year. It comes in an international political climate very different from that of April 2010. The international community has already paid an enormous price for hiding and covering up the truth about Smolensk, for tolerating the impunity of the resurgent Russian empire. The full success of the Smolensk operation has been a direct encouragement for the subsequent Russian aggressions that have engulfed the Crimea and parts of Ukraine, and cost the world community millions of human lives lost in Ukraine, Syria, in the downed passenger plane MH17, and in other related calamities.
Hence, Smolensk represents the Twenty First Century Munich – a failed policy of appeasement that produced impunity, encouraged aggression, and enabled resurgent Russia to secure a series of victories in the international hybrid warfare that rages in Europe and the Middle East.
In the face of continuing sophisticated acts of aggression directed at the international community by emboldened Russia, it is time to repent in a fratricidal struggle and stand up against the insidious propaganda of hatred spread by agents of Russian influence primarily among the Polish people and in the West. It is imperative that the affected societies, primarily Poland, begin the healing process. The first step in resisting the Russian information warfare on Smolensk should be the rejection and condemnation of brutal media attacks on those who have the courage to stand up for the inconvenient truth against the dominant power. These people stand up against Moscow propaganda for our common good, including the good of those who mindlessly and viciously attack them to the satisfaction of Moscow strategists.
Maria Szonert-Binienda, Esq.