Pole Position: Belarus and Battle of Warsaw

Pole Position’s eastern special with Łukasz Jasina (Polish Institute for International Affairs) and Wojciech Konończuk (Centre for Eastern Studies) discusses the fall-out from the Belarusian vote and the centenary celebration of Poland’s victory against the Bolshevik Red Army in 1920.

See full programme here.

The election in neighbouring Belarus and the crisis it has caused is being watched closely in Warsaw. President Lukashenko’s win in that election is contested at home and abroad, but not by Russia. Polish PM Morawiecki called on the EU to hold a special summit to discuss the fall-out from the situation in Belarus but the EU is not rushing ahead. Poland has over the years become a sanctuary for many Belarusian opposition activists and hosts an independent TV station Belsat broadcasting into Belarus by satellite. Poland wants to see Belarus avoid becoming totally dominated by Russia or in chaos that would lead to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the country.

Poland is celebrating the centenary anniversary of its victory over the Red Army in 1920. The battle of Warsaw which took place in August 1920 is regarded by many historians as one of the most important in modern history. It saw the advance of the Red Army held and then reversed. This made any plans the Bolsheviks may have had to march westward into Germany null and void. And it was undoubtedly Marshall Józef Piłsudski’s finest hour, as not only had he two years previously managed to attain independence for Poland, in 1920 he managed to defend it. This episode in history underlines Poland’s historically and geopolitically difficult but strategically vital location.