Relations with Russia are one of the topics of the European Union summit held since Thursday noon. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced before the summit that he would inform EU leaders about cyber attacks directed by Russia against the Polish government. He also announced that this issue will be reflected in the outcome of the summit.
Government spokesman Peter Mueller said in an interview with journalists that in order to talk with Russia about any changes in international relations, both sides must implement the previous conclusions adopted by the leaders of the European Union. He also stressed the importance of Russia’s implementation of the Minsk agreements, which has not yet happened.
– On the other hand, Poland and other countries have also become the subject of cyberattacks from the territory of the Russian Federation, and therefore this is not a friendly gesture that we have noticed in recent weeks, not to mention gestures and actions that violate international law that we have respected for many years – said Muller.
In this context, he referred to the illegal seizure of Crimea by Russia and the mobilization of forces on the eastern border of Ukraine, which – he added – the EU cannot accept and unfreeze relations.
– Within the European Union, and within the European Council, there are some differences of opinion on the issue of approach to Russia. Some would like these talks with Russia to reach a higher level when it comes to bilateral relations, but there can be no such decision if Russia does not take clear actions, not just the gestures expected from the international community, the government spokesperson said.
Mueller referred to the Franco-German proposal, which – according to EU sources – aims to weaken the outcome of the summit with regard to Russia. Berlin and Paris put forward proposals for items relating to the need for closer cooperation between the EU and Russia in specific areas. This, for example, on issues of climate change or the nuclear agreement with Iran.
– He added: – We, as Poland, which historically among the EU countries understand very well relations with Russia, cannot agree that empty gestures replace real actions.
When asked about the Franco-German proposal, the government spokesperson replied that among the EU countries, both Germany and France referred to the EU policy adjustments and Russia.
– In the explanatory realm, this would be a good direction, but it would only be possible if Russia implemented the terms signed by the European Union. That’s not the case, Mueller said, so it’s hard to expect other EU countries to accept Russia’s policy that directly violates international law.
The German-French proposal was a big surprise to many member states. According to one EU diplomat, during a meeting of ambassadors of member states, 12 or so of the proposed new clauses for conclusions on Russia were opposed by Germany and France. Of these a dozen or so countries, there are, among others Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland.
The government spokesman stressed that relations with Russia and their nature are under dispute throughout the European Union.
Asked what Poland expects from the outcome of the European Council meeting, he replied that the cyber attacks were condemned by EU bodies.
These expressions of solidarity were carried out not only by the European Union, but also by NATO and the US State Department. It is possible that this topic will also appear in the conclusions of the Council of Europe, but in fact Poland’s expectations are being implemented at the moment, because they are the result of such a societal approach when it comes to the issue of attacks on the territory of the European Union – said Muller.
He stressed that not only Poland is the target of cyber attacks, but also Belgium and Germany as part of the work of hackers from Russia called “Ghostwriter”.
– The voice of the European Union and NATO is already clear in this regard, and therefore what is being discussed today is how to continue talking with Russia when it comes to international relations at the level of the European Union and Russia, and here is the voice of Poland and the government spokesperson added that until the Minsk agreements are implemented And other announcements that were important from the point of view of relations between the European Union and Russia, we will criticize giving more opportunities to rebuild certain relations.
Mueller described Russia’s actions as “hostile” to many EU countries.
When asked whether Poland expects additional sanctions against Russia due to cyber attacks, he replied that a special commission responsible for cyber security in the European Union will convene in this area.
– There, one possibility is different types of impact when it comes to IT-level sanctions – cyber sanctions, but whether they will be taken is another question. So far, Mueller said, this rarely happens in the European Union.
– On the other hand, at the level of the European Council, we are pleased to extend the sanctions that have been adopted so far recently – he added.
A government spokesperson reported that the current topic of the meeting was: Epidemiology, Certification of Vaccines, and Migration.
In the context of migration, he stressed that Poland’s position has not changed since 2018 and is in line with the conclusions that the EU should focus on helping countries from which migration flows come, and not accept more refugees.
The EU summit kicked off Thursday afternoon with a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Earlier, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke with the heads of government of the countries of the Visegrad Group. It is scheduled to discuss issues of relations between the European Union and Russia in the evening. The summit will end on Friday afternoon.