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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ukraine must not be the 21st century deja vu of 1939 Poland versus Hitler

Russia's President Putin's actions to challenge a take over of the Ukraine is like Adolf  Hitler's evil ambitions in the years before Europe was ravaged by the Nazi and the 1939 invasion of Poland.

In the mid, and late 1930s, France, and especially Britain followed a foreign policy of appeasement with Germany, Hitler and the Nazi political party. The objective of this policy was to maintain peace in Europe, by making limited concessions to German demands for claiming Austria and Poland. In Britain, public opinion tended to favor some revision of the territorial and military provision of the Versailles treaty after World War I. 

Moreover, neither Britain nor France in 1938 were militarily prepared to fight a war against Nazi Germany, so few years after the World War I horror.

Britain and France essentially acquiesced to Germany's rearmament (1935-1937), remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936), and annexation of Austria (March 1938). In September 1938, after signing away the Czech border regions, known as the Sudetenland, to Germany at the Munich conference, British and French leaders pressured France's ally, Czechoslovakia, to yield to Germany's demand for the incorporation of those regions. Despite Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of rump Czechoslovakia, the Germans dismembered the Czechoslovak state in March 1939 in violation of the Munich agreement. 

Britain and France responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler responded by negotiating a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1939. The German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which stated that Poland was to be partitioned between the two powers, enabled Germany to attack Poland without the fear of Soviet intervention.

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion. From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, German units, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack. After heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 27, 1939. Britain and France, standing by their guarantee of Poland's border, had declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939. The demarcation line for the partition of German- and Soviet-occupied Poland was along the Bug River.

In October 1939, Germany directly annexed those former Polish territories along German's eastern border: West Prussia, Poznan, Upper Silesia, and the former Free City of Danzig. The remainder of German-occupied Poland (including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Radom, and Lublin) was organized as the so-called General gouvernement (General Government) under a civilian governor general, the Nazi party lawyer Hans Frank.

Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.

Fast forward to 2014, and the world is in a deja vu situation.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border near Donetsk, Western leaders have worried that Moscow might use unrest in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking areas as a pretext for an invasion.

LOVYANSK, Ukraine — For the first time, the Ukrainian government on Sunday sent its security services to confront armed pro-Russian militants in the country’s east, defying warnings from Russia. Commandos engaged in gunfights with men who had set up roadblocks and stormed a Ukrainian police station in Slovyansk, and at least one officer was killed, Ukrainian officials said. Although several officers were injured in the operation, as were four locals, officials said, the Russian news media and residents disputed that account, saying the Ukrainian forces had only briefly engaged one checkpoint. In either case, the government in Kiev has turned to force to restore its authority in the east, a course of action that Russia has warned against.

Putin's ambitions must be stopped. 

Economic sanctions have had a negative impact on Russia's stock market;  moreover, the currency of the ruble has been valueless, as a foreign currency, for decades.

Nevertheless, Russia's Putin is fiscally desperate. Money is owed to investors who extended their credit on the cost of the military and the opulence of the now passe Sochi 2014, Olympic Games.

Understandably, 21st century leaders are justifiably horrified by the prospect of challenging Russia and provoking the potential for another European conflict. Unbelievably, the only world leader who doesn't appear fearful of a European conflagration, like the prelude to World War II, is the Russian President Putin.

Ukranians can't become victims to Putin's ambitions. 

Ukranians don't have a puppet leader like the Syrian President Assad. Syria's president is supporting Putin's ambitions to maintain an open sea port at Tartus, regardless of the millions of innocent people, many of them Christians, who are murdered, tortured, killed and persecuted.

It will be difficult for all of Europe to hold together against Putin's ruthless vision to create a 21st century empirical Russia.

Yet, the horrible lessons of the 20th century must motivate the world to stand in opposition to the proliferation of Putin's evil ambitions.

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