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One of the great ramifications of the proxy war being undertaken in physical form on the territory of Ukraine looks to potentially significantly dynamic power relationships both within Europe, between Europe and their American partners (a marriage that has had its dramatic moments since 1945 but which appears incapable of either equal relations or separation)." One of its potentially more important consequences is on the realignment of relations among states on the Eastern peripheries of Europe and beyond the western territorial limits of Russia.
Polish President Andrzej Duda became the first foreign leader to speak to the Ukrainian parliament in person since the war began. Duda stressed his support for Ukraine's bid to join the EU, and said that any territorial concessions to Russia would be a blow for the entire Western world." So it was reported in DW on 22 May 2022. The speech by the Polish President, along with that of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, of course, were richer than that bare reporting. And also far more important. Their quick translation into English (like many others) suggests the self-conscious projection of the speeches to different audiences, the messages for which are embedded in different parts of the speeches.
While it appears that the 'bigger fish' in first tier states and their governing cliques (both within and just beyond government) continue to angle for the Prussian solution --a second partitioning of Ukraine (the first of course by default in the conquest of Crimea)--those that have been the subject of these machinations appear to have other ideas. They have made good their intentions and their resolve in blood, and treasure (recalling the US Declaration of Independence: "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor") as a reproach to the world. That calculus has shifted, of course. The nature of hedging on the parts of the Europeans, the Chinese and the Americans is now plainly visible in the form of the way in which they manifest their contributions to and participation in the non-direct military operations around the physical fighting (including logistics, support, and targeted projections of power in social, cultural, and economic space). Nonetheless, the fundamental calculus of partition remains unchanged, though now it appears to be shifting toward a smaller partition in the Ukrainian East (and of course Crimea) perhaps to be papered over with some ridiculously absurd conceptual pyrotechnics that will fool fool no one and create future problems for all.
Yet Poland, along with the Czechs and Slovaks, have now joined with Ukraine to resist. And they are resisting in quite interesting ways. The most profound, of course, is the indication of the development of an anti-Franco/German front. This front will target concepts, and politics, as well as the actual management of the war against the Russians. It will become politically dangerous for the current crop of Angela Merkel era ruling intellectuals and influencers along with their allies in the old Carolingian heartland if Ukrainian entry into Europe shifts the balance of the European ideological center. It is to them that some key passages in the Polish Presidential speech were directed ("Unfortunately, also in Europe in recent days, now and then, one has been hearing disconcerting voices suggesting that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands. . . As Poland, we have long warned Europe about the imperial inclinations of Russia and Putin. . . Our warnings were downplayed. We were accused of Russophobia." (Duda Speech)).
What that center will look like may be gleaned from the speeches of the Polish and Ukrainian Presidents. There is more to the speeches, of course--beyond the expressions of common destiny, solidarity and mutual support. Equally interesting, and resonating with the attempt at Franco-German reconciliation after the 1950s, was the acknowledgement of past grievances and the efforts to overcome them.
Success on that front, even more than on the battlefield, may increase the likelihood of permanently detaching Ukraine from its Russian past and more solidly aligning Ukraine westward. It is a pity that this is not better nurtured up the chain of power in the liberal democratic camp.
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Irrespective of the West's failure to grasp the dynamic changes in the East of Europe, the emerging Slavic bloc that may emerge may upend settled political expectations for a long time to come. And ironically enough, given the more flexible posture of the Americans, this bloc may solidify the US-EU partnership, with Washington at the center. "Kyiv is a place from which one can clearly see that we need more America in Europe, equally in military and economic terms." (Duda Speech). And this from President Zelenskyy:
These ought not to be taken as mere temporary expressions of mutual support in crisis. They point to a larger and slower realignment. Europe will be unlikely to resist it effectively; the United States may (reluctantly) be driven by it (through its projection in American mass politics). For Russia and its Chinese partner, that would suggest that their gamble might not have produced the desired result. Their counter-move will be worth watching, and better, anticipating by those at the front lines of this contest.
The text of the speeches of Polish President Duda and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy follow below (in English). President Duda's speech may also be accessed in English on the official website of the Polish President HERE.