Many including the author of these lines have compared what happened in Minsk this week with what happened in Munich in 1938, but Vytautas Landsbergis, the man who played the key role in recovering the independence of Lithuania, argues that the Minsk meeting was “much worse than Munich.”
One reason for that conclusion, he points out, is that in 1938, there were no SS officers from the Sudetenland taking part and demanding the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. “At the very least, they were not sitting” at the negotiating table. But in Minsk, precisely such people were.
As a result, the Western participants lent to them and their demands a legitimacy which invading forces do not deserve and should never be given. Such hirelings of an aggressive state “must not be allowed to sit” at such talks. To allow them to do so is to give up the game and yield to the aggressor.
If Russia now presumes to dictate what should be the constitutional order in Ukraine and if he has gained the assent of the German chancellor and the French president, Landsbergis continues, then the world has the right, even the obligation to ask, “when will you begin to observe the [Russian] Constitution, Mr. Putin?”
If he has no intention of doing so – and clearly there is no evidence for any other conclusion, Landsbergis suggests – then, “keep your mouth shut and don’t talk about the Constitution.” Ukraine is “a democratic country, we have an elected parliament,” and its president Petro Poroshenko can say “I am an elected president [but] you appointed yourself.”
The Lithuanian leader said that he was disappointed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel apparently accepted Putin’s “’puppet theater’” when she suggested that the Kremlin leader had put pressure on the separatists to sign the agreement. To say that is also to give them a status independent of Moscow which they do not deserve.
And although Landsbergis did not list them, there are three other ways in which Minsk was worse than Munich:
- First, at Munich, Prague was not asked to participate in the capitulation of its partners.
- Second, at Minsk, the most powerful Western country of the time was not excluded.
- And third, at Munich but not at Minsk, those doing the appeasing admitted as much.