This article originally appeared in Myśl Polska. You can find it here in Polish. The views expressed in the article are exclusively of the author and may not be shared by East & West.
Of course, in terms of understanding political space and, naturally, taking into account geographical factors, i.e. rivers, mountains, climates, etc., we are referring to the western end of Eurasia here. Therefore the right question may be: where does Western Europe end?
To address this issue as substantively as possible, one should not overlook civilization and historical references. In addition, we must also take into account the fact that all borders are always only approximate, because throughout history they are subject to various shifts.
Moreover, a lot depends also on which factor we are willing to prioritize. In this situation, it is easier to determine the eastern parts of the European West. From a historical reference point, this is relatively simple. The first clue is given to us by ancient Rome, whose borders ran along the Rhine and the Danube in its middle and lower reaches. Later, Charlemagne and his Eastern Frankish successors placed the border posts on the Elbe and subsequently on the Oder. The further process of advancing towards the East was long and arduous. Eventually it ended in 1945, a great geopolitical catastrophe of the West, when the Elbe became the border river between Rome and Tartaria or Scythia.
So now we are experiencing a war-like confrontation because Eurasia (Russia) is leaning against the wall and has very little room for maneuver. But you need to look for a balance point, zones that will ensure fair international order in this part of the world. Let’s start with the question, how far can Russia go back? The answer seems quite simple: it can’t go anymore. By taking Crimea and pushing Ukraine away from its borders near the Don, it indicated its own minimum. Any attempt to break the separation line in Donbas, destabilizing Belarus, will be an introduction to a great war. There are other ideas as well. It is about such a permanent division of Ukraine that the demarcation line between East and West runs somewhere near the Dniepr. That would certainly satisfy Russia. However, let’s look at the matter from a Polish point of view.
Such a decision would mean leaving some version of a Banderland alive with several regions towards Kiev and the northeast. Such a state would be a German political and economic protectorate. This would greatly deteriorate our geopolitical position, making it virtually unbearable. It is in our most vital interest that the Kremlin take imperial guardianship over all of Ukraine. It is very advisable, but it requires a definite change in attitude towards Moscow.
Instead of talking about community of interests with Orban’s Hungarians, we should follow his political course. The Bug is the most appropriate of the rivers separating Eurasia from the West. Otherwise an extremely negative option is possible. This river may become the Vistula, in distant times recognized as Vandalia or the White River. Therefore, Poland must remain a border state separating the West from the East, provided, of course, that the former continues to exist as an organized civilizational and political whole. And in case the West were to fall, we should become an organic part of the East.
Myśl Polska, no. 45-46 (3-10.11.2019)