“Our American allies did not find time to consult with the region most exposed to the consequences of that decision,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said Friday.
Rau was critical of Biden’s relationship with Central and Eastern European allies, just as the new administration wishes to make a show of transatlantic unity after former President Donald Trump’s tempestuous tenure on Biden's first trip overseas. Though, the Putin encounter looming at the end of that diplomatic tour casts a shadow over the alliance, as Biden's outreach to the western European capitals that fought most with Trump includes policy concessions that alarm the allies who endured the cruelty of the Soviet Union.
“American-Russian-German dialogue is no substitute for consultations between America and its allies on NATO’s eastern flank, who will be particularly affected by these decisions,” Rau told Rzeczpospolita, a Polish media outlet. “It is easier for the Americans to talk to the Germans and the French, who won’t ask awkward questions and are willing to give the Americans the nod on Russia.”
Biden’s team has characterized his meeting with Putin as an effort to place U.S.-Russia relations on a more “stable and predictable" footing. Rau made clear he has low expectations for the meeting but acknowledged Biden was wise to make the effort.
“Putin is no Gorbachev, and Biden is certainly no Reagan,” he said archly.
“Diplomacy strives to nurture even the very remote possibility that one day Russia will become a member of the international community seeking to preserve peace and pursuing peaceful policies to this end,” the foreign minister announced. “We should always look for ways of encouraging Russia, even under Vladimir Putin’s rule, to adopt such policies.”
Rau’s public airing of grievances could put a negative charge into the relationship already filled with political stresses. Freedom House, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., recognized Poland as one of the worst instances of “democratic backsliding in Europe,” faulting Warsaw in particular for "cracking down on judicial autonomy, independent media and the civic sector.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked for a $2.8 billion budget to counter such developments.
"For example, through technical training for elections and support for independent media and civil society,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. Biden hopes an “alliance of democracies” will hold the key to countering the threats emanating from a rising Chinese Communist regime.