IWP Professor Gen. Walter Jajko recently granted an interview to Poland's leading conservative Catholic newspaper, Nasz Dziennik (Our Daily).
The focus was Western relations with post-Soviet Russia in general, and the Smolensk plane crash of 10 April 2010, which tragically ended the lives of Poland's late President, Lech Kaczyński, along with almost one hundred representatives of the nation's political elite.
According to Gen. Jajko, the current Polish leadership - headed by the liberal Civic Platform politicians, Bronisław Komorowski (President) and Donald Tusk (Prime Minister) - has handled the crash investigation in a very unorthodox manner. Poland should have requested international assistance at the very outset. The government in Warsaw failed to follow the standard procedures applicable in such cases. These would have dictated taking into account all possible scenarios, no matter how ostensibly improbable or politically incorrect. Moreover, Warsaw neglected to demand greater cooperation and professionalism from Moscow. In fact, post-Soviet behavior since the Smolensk tragedy has done very little to allay suspicions and a great deal to feed conspiracy theories.
The General also emphasizes that Lech Kaczyński's demise was quite convenient for the Kremlin. The death of the late Polish President, and many of his associates, removed a political leadership adhering to a soberly realistic approach towards post-Soviet Russia. Kaczyński saw Putin's "new" Russia as dominated by former KGB and GRU officers and striving to rebuild the old Soviet Empire. Gen. Jajko agrees with this assessment: "The Russian road to Europe and her ambitions associated with this continent always lead through Poland and are directed against Poland, and by extension, against Western Civilization. Russia behavior will not change as a result of certain policies or treaties." Western leaders, who prefer to embrace wishful thinking vis-à-vis post-Soviet ambitions, have much to learn from Kaczyński's realism.
The views of Gen. Walter Jajko do not reflect the views of The Institute of World Politics, the US Government, or the Department of Defense.