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21.03.2019 Europe

Poland Refuses To Invite Russia To WWII Commemoration Ceremony

RFI / Marc Etcheverry
MAR 21, 2019 EUROPE

Angry at Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea, Poland has refused to invite a Russian delegation to the 80th anniversary ceremony commemorating the start of World War II.

The ceremony will be held in September "in the company of countries with whom Poland cooperates closely now for peace that is based on respect for international law, for the sovereignty of nations and of their territory," Krzysztof Szczerski, a Polish presidential aide, told Polish news agency PAP.

Russia has been hit with several sanctions for annexing Crimea, as well as for allegedly supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday, saying it was “bewildered” by the comment, lashing out at Poland and claiming that Warsaw was attempting to rewrite history.

"Despite the critical contribution of our country to defeating Hitler's Germany and liberating Poland from Nazi invaders, there is no place for Russia there," the statement said.

Not all Polish politicians were in agreement with Szczerski's comment, however.

"It is hard to talk about World War II without mentioning the armed effort of the Soviet Union," former prime minister Leszek Miller told Polsat TV.

"If this is going to be a sign that they are not inviting him as punishment, then the Kremlin would only shrug," he added. Miller is running for a seat in the European Parliament.

Some in Poland still believe that the Soviet Red Army invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939, was an act of betrayal by the then-USSR. The soviet authorities subsequently divided Poland with Germany.