Poland criticises Russia's 'imperialist tendencies' on WWII anniversary

Warsaw (AFP) –


Poland's President Andrzej Duda on Sunday slammed Russia's military actions as "imperialist tendencies" at ceremonies in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

"Recently, we have even seen the return of imperialist tendencies in Europe, attempts to change borders by force, attacks on other states, taking land, enslaving citizens," Duda said before leaders attending the ceremonies, including US Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Although Duda did not specifically name Russia, he called out Moscow's military actions against "Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 that altered borders."

The Polish president urged "the leaders of Europe and the world, NATO and EU members" to guard against appeasing aggressors.

"There must be sanctions, resolute actions, it must be obvious that any military aggression will be met with a firm reaction, resolute and strong," Polish president added.

"Closed eyes are not a good recipe for keeping the peace; it's a good way to encourage aggressive personalities, to give the green light for new attacks," Duda added.

Nazi Germany's attack on Poland on September 1, 1939 triggered World War II, history's bloodiest conflict.

Neither Pence nor German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who also spoke at the ceremonies mentioned Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited -- unlike 10 years ago -- because of Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.