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Poland blasts Germany over Russia

Germany is an obstacle in the way of imposing harsh sanctions on Russia and has been helping the country to become stronger for decades, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during a press conference on Monday.

The accusation comes in the wake of Kiev’s claims that Russia had committed war crimes against civilian populations in Bucha, a city northwest of Kiev. Morawiecki blasted Russian actions in Ukraine as “pure evil” and said the only morally acceptable course of action for the EU is to impose the toughest possible sanctions on Russia.

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“How many times have you negotiated with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin?” the Polish official asked French President Emmanuel Macron rhetorically. “You do not negotiate with criminals, you fight them.”

He said the EU must ramp up anti-Russian sanctions to “break Putin’s war machine,” before calling out Germany for its record of trading with Russia. Berlin has vowed to reduce its dependence on Russian commodities, particularly natural gas, but acknowledged it would take years and would cause serious damage to its economy.

Former chancellor Angela Merkel allowed Russia to build up its army over the years by purchasing raw materials from Russia, the Polish politician said. The current German leadership should listen to the voices of “innocent women and children, the voice of the murdered people” rather than the voices of German businessmen, Morawiecki added.

“Anyone who reads the transcripts [of EU meetings] will know that Germany is the main stumbling block on the way towards very strong sanctions,” he said, when asked about Hungary’s refusal to sanction Russian energy.

“[Hungarian] Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not stop the sanctions. In fact, the main obstacles are the big countries, those who are afraid for their business,” the prime minister said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously used the claims of war crimes in Bucha to blame former leaders of Germany and France – ex-chancellor Merkel and ex-president Nocolas Sracozy – of appeasing Russia.

Moscow has denied Kiev’s accusations regarding Bucha, saying the images purportedly showing Russian war crimes committed there were an attempt by the Ukrainian government to smear it. Russian forces left the city on March 30. Images purportedly showing civilians killed by withdrawing Russian troops started pouring out of the city on April 2.

Poland is among the most vocal critics of Russia among the EU states. Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, top Polish officials have called for a massive deployment of US troops in Europe, stating that their country was eager to host American nuclear weapons to deter Russia. Warsaw has set a policy of “de-Russifying” its economy and said Russian culture should be suppressed in Poland because of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked on Monday that Poland’s rhetoric was “extremely belligerent” and “anti-Russian,” causing “deep concern” in Moscow.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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