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July 12, 2024

An essential book for today. Can we understand Russia? How to defend ourselves against her?



Freedom and despotism side by side

the 10th through 21st century

by Andrzej Nowak


Can we understand Russia? How to defend ourselves against her?

Why? — This question comes to mind every time we reflect on Russia’s history and Polish-Russian relations. Why is Russia afraid of Poland? Why have Western countries naively believed in Moscow’s good intentions for centuries? Why is there so much brutality, violence, and backwardness in the history of Russia until today? Why was it bloodthirsty in attacking countries it considered weaker, for example, Poland in 1920 or 1939, Georgia in 2008, or Ukraine in 2022?

Prof. Andrzej Nowak reveals the sources of the Russian mentality, going back to the times of the foundation of the Polish state and Kyivan Rus, when Moscow was a patch of land in the wilderness overgrown with grass and forests, leading the reader to modern times and the shameful invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. The scholar explains that Ruthenia is not Russia, and the heritage of that historical land has nothing to do with modern Moscow. It was not until the 15th century that Moscow was perceived as a military threat at the courts in Cracow and Vilnius when the tsars began to use arguments that we hear today to justify their wars against Poland — the alleged defense of the Orthodox minority and the unification of all Ruthenians under one scepter.

It is also worth noting the civilizational gap between Poland and Russia. When tens of thousands of Polish nobility were deciding about the fate of the Republic of Poland at the sejmiki [local parliaments ]and sejmy [parliaments], the time of oprichnina came in Russia, i.e., brutal terror and the power of the special services. When hundreds of books and political magazines were written on the Vistula River, the tsarist empire did not know maps, hardly anyone could read or write, and there were no schools. Fear of Poland grew, and so did hatred.

This hatred seemed to be ending in the eighteenth century when Tsarina Catherine humiliated the Commonwealth by installing her lover on the Polish throne, kidnapping Polish senators, and finally ordering the partitions. In addition to Moscow’s raw military strength, it was also caused by the internal weakness of the state, and Poland lost its sovereignty, formally being an ally of Russia. We are warned against this by Prof. Andrzej Nowak. It is a valuable and essential lesson today and is the most significant value of this book.

The author constantly draws conclusions from the history of Polish-Russian relations that are important to us now — especially now. He leads us through the heroism of the nineteenth-century uprisings to the great victory in 1920 and then to the activities of the Russian agents in the Second Polish Republic and the ever-dangerous German-Russian cooperation, which culminated in the crimes of World War II. We stop only in modern times when we see with our own eyes and so close to us in Ukraine the unrestrained and criminal imperial appetite of Vladimir Putin.

Prof. Andrzej Nowak based his analysis on previously unknown documents and research that he conducted in Moscow archives. He warned and still warns against the bloodthirsty beast that also has its supporters on the Vistula River. The time of pretending is over. This book is about to shake us up. Will we wake up? …

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