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Polish Diplomat Sikorski retaliates against Russia in the UN

Radoslaw Sikorski frequently gets into difficulty because he tends to speak his views. However, Poland's foreign minister became well-known overnight for his sharp criticism of Russia's revanchism during a UN Security Council meeting on Friday. It may go down as a turning point in the discussion around the conflict in Ukraine.

Sikorski responded to Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya in New York with a four-minute speech that sought to "correct the record" of the envoy's remarks by rejecting several talking points from the Kremlin that have been used time and time again to support the invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its third year.

He also delves into the background of relations between Russia and Poland. He pointed out to the ambassador how the Soviet Union collaborated with Nazi Germany to attack Poland in 1939. He jokingly questioned whether the August 1920 Russian troops' failed effort to capture Warsaw was just "a topographic excursion."

“The truth is that for every time Russia was invaded, she has in-vaded ten times. But there’s good news. After each failure, there were reforms,” Sikorski stated. Delivered with humour and assurance, it was classic Sikorski. Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden, hailed the speech as "a classic," and it received high appreciation. After that, not much remained of Russia.

German diplomat and former head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, wrote: "Bravo Radek." British historian Timothy Garton Ash called it "one for the ages." We expected nothing less of you," the post on the social networking network X stated.

Sikorski's direct communication style has caused controversy and doubts about his suitability as Poland's top diplomat. In 2022, Sikorski, a member of the European Parliament, created controversy. He said in a post that the US was to blame for explosions that caused damage to the Nord Stream two gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea. The post was later taken down. 

He once linked Germany's Nord Stream pipeline to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which partitioned Poland between the two countries before World War II.

Such actions bring to mind the politician Boris Johnson, whom Sikorski had become friends with while attending Oxford University. Both of them are exclusive, male-only members of the Bullingdon Club. They have maintained contact; in 2014, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom paid a visit to Sikorski's country home while serving as Poland's foreign minister. 

Sikorski was born in Bydgoszcz, a city in northwest Poland. He departed for the UK in June 1981 to pursue an English degree. It was just six months before martial law was established by Poland's then-communist government. After that, he applied for political asylum. He worked as a freelance war correspondent for British newspapers in Afghanistan during Russia's ten-year invasion that started in 1979.

He served as a minister in multiple Polish governments until becoming well-known worldwide as one of the negotiators in Kyiv in 2014, just a few days before Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine at the time, left the nation with support from Russia. The opposition leaders were then seen on tape informing him that unless they reached an agreement, "you'll all be dead.”

Three years prior, Sikorski caused a stir when he made the controversial statement that he was more afraid of German might than German inaction. It was a call for the greatest EU member to take a more active part in European affairs.

In December, he returned to Prime Minister Donald Tusk's administration, causing controversy for a minister. The minister was known for his mistakes and whose wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, is a vocal opponent of Russia. However, Sikorski's wide range of US contacts was viewed as a benefit and a launching pad for a career overseas, potentially as a defence commissioner in the incoming EU executive.

On February 22, in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York, Sikorski warned of "profound consequences" for US alliances should Congress reject more than $60 billion in proposed military aid to Ukraine. He also suggested that some nations might be pressured to pursue their own nuclear weapons programs if US leadership gets questioned.

He also addressed Donald Trump, another politician with a reputation for voicing his opinions, who recently said that he had previously advised an unidentified leader that he would support Russia in attacking NATO nations that fail to meet their military budget obligations.
"We didn't send an invoice to Washington—Poland sent a brigade to Ghazni, a tough province in Afghanistan," Sikorski stated. "A neighbourhood security company is not the same as a military alliance."

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