In eastern Poland, Putin’s war has turned former enemies into friends

The funeral of one of the men killed by a missile in Przewodów, eastern Poland. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Opposition to Russian aggression has helped Poles and Ukrainians put bitter 20th-century history behind them
Patriot missiles ring the airport in the Polish border city of Rzeszów, and US troops have taken over the Holiday Inn opposite the terminal. On its runway, once the preserve of budget carriers, private jets are lined up beside cargo planes crammed with weapons.
The bristling circle of military protection, set up hastily in early spring as the historic town became the world’s gateway to the war in Ukraine, is both a shield and a constant reminder of the conflict on its doorstep.
When a Russian-made missile slammed into a farm and killed two men in the village of Przewodów, about 100 miles away, many people wondered if it was enough.
“After this incident in Przewodów, I and many of our citizens had a moment of great fear,” said Rzeszów mayor Konrad Fijołek, sitting in his busy town hall office. “Is this the beginning of something worse? Was it a Russian missile or not? And why didn’t our systems catch it?”
This war has changed the world, but perhaps nowhere outside Ukraine has the transformation forged by Moscow’s guns, tanks and missiles been as immediate and far-reaching as along Poland’s border.

Ukraine has named Rzeszów “saviour city”, for its role as a gateway for refugees pouring out, and aid pouring in over the last few months. Help was offered so eagerly and spontaneously when refugees first started crossing the border, that many outside Poland did not understand that they were witnessing a dramatic shift.
Just a couple of generations ago, there was bitter fighting between Poles and Ukrainians in nearby border areas including the city of Przemyśl and parts of western Ukraine, as both tried to forge a nation out of the ruins of European empires.
The violence, which lasted for much of the first half of the 20th century, included mass deportations and killings. Its legacy lingered in often bitter cross-border politics, with some parties on both sides courting Russia even as they played on local tensions. But Putin’s war changed Poland’s relationship with Ukraine – and people’s understanding of their own history – virtually overnight.



RELATED:  Germany to offer Poland Patriot system after stray missile crash

Germany has offered Warsaw the Patriot missile defence system to help it to secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed in Poland last week, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht told a newspaper on Sunday.
The German government had already said it would offer its neighbour further help in air policing with German Eurofighters after the incident, which initially raised fears that the war in Ukraine could spill across the border.
“We have offered Poland support in securing airspace – with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence systems,” Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post and General Anzeiger.
The missile that hit Poland last week, killing two people, appeared to have been fired by Ukraine’s air defences rather than a Russian strike, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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