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Polish president: Calls to Putin like talking to Hitler

June 9, 2022

President Duda excoriated Germany's Scholz and France's Macron for staying in contact with the Russian president, after Macron warned against "humiliating" Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Andrzej Duda
Image: Michal Dyjuk/AP Photo/picture alliance

Polish President Andrzej Duda slammed the leaders of both Germany and France for their phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, comparing it to maintaining a direct line with Adolf Hitler during World War II.

In an interview published in Thursday's edition of German best-selling newspaper Bild, Duda questioned what Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron thought was to be gained by the calls as Russia continues to bombard civilian targets in Ukraine.

Macron drew international attention in an interview last week when he said such calls were necessary to prevent Moscow from being "humiliated" and thus preserve the chance of a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Macron said in the same interview that Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked him to keep calling Putin. The French leader has also used the call to urge Putin to release prisoners, which reportedly includes civilians, according to the Elysee Palace.

"Did anyone speak like this with Adolf Hitler during World War Two?" Duda said. "Did anyone say that Adolf Hitler must save face? That we should proceed in such a way that it is not humiliating for Adolf Hitler? I have not heard such voices."

Scholz has also stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication with Russia open. 

Duda described the conversations as "kind of legitimization of a person who is responsible for crimes perpetrated by the Russian army in Ukraine," and said that there was no evidence that they were "achieving anything."

Ukrainians returning home despite war

Since invading Ukraine in February, Russia's army has forced 7 million people to flee their homes, killed thousands, and committed atrocities on civilian populations.

The interview with the Bild newspaper, comes after years of simmering tensions between Poland and the two western EU powerhouses, who have differed widely on issues ranging from migration to judicial reform within Poland.

For Jewish groups within Germany, according to a recent study carried out by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, comments like Duda's relativize the Holocaust and should be viewed critically.

'We've received nothing'

Warsaw has also complained about Germany's reluctance to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, including accusations that replacement tanks promised to the Polish government by Berlin show no signs of arrival.

"As far as I know we've received nothing at all," Duda told Bild. "We gave our tanks away and now we have nothing at all in their place." 

The Polish president did not mention that Germany had warned the tanks could take quite some time before they were ready to be shipped.

Duda then criticized German businesses, saying that for some of them "what happens to Ukraine or Poland" was of no concern, especially those still doing business with Moscow.

"Perhaps German business does not believe that the Russian army could again celebrate a major victory in Berlin and occupy a part of Germany. We in Poland know that that's possible," he said.

es/msh (Reuters, dpa)