Saturday, September 3, 2016

Putin Warns against Opening One ‘Pandora’s Box’ After Opening Others Himself

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 3 – Vladimir Putin says that anyone who wants to revise the borders set at the end of World War II both in Europe and in Asia would be opening “a Pandora’s box” that would lead to ever greater problems, even as he himself has opened precisely such a box by using military force to change the borders of Georgia and Ukraine.

            In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency on the eve of the 77th anniversary of the start of World War II in Europe, the Kremlin leader not only reiterated a position reflecting his view of the continuing centrality of that conflict but also declared that borders not established by that conflict have a very different status than those established by it.

            “If someone wants to begin revising the results of World War II, let us discuss this theme. But then it will be necessary to discuss not those of Kaliningrad alone but all the eastern lands of Germany, Lvov which was part of Poland, and so on and so forth. There is also Hungary and Romania” (

            Putin continued: “If someone wants to open this Pandora’s box and begin to work with these problems, please begin with flags in your hands.” He made the same point about the Kurile Islands which the Soviet Union seized from Japan in 1945.  That transfer, he said, has been recognized by a variety of international accords and must not be challenged.

            At the same time, he suggested that other border disputes not arising from challenges to the 1945 settlement have a different status. Russia and China, Putin said, agreed on border adjustments after 40 years of talks precisely because the border between them had nothing to do with the outcome of World War II.

            Other border changes that he, Vladimir Putin, has been responsible for, including the detaching of Abkhazia and South Osetia from Georgia in 2008 and especially the annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Crimea are off the table, he said and cannot be challenged. There is no basis for any “return” to their earlier status (

            What is still worse, although Putin himself did not mention it in his remarks, is that pro-Kremlin commentators are calling for even more revisions of borders in the post-Soviet space. One this week, for example, again said that Ukraine must be split into two parts, a landlocked Ukrainian Ukraine and a pro-Moscow “Novorossiya” (

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