Russian Influence in Poland: Looking in the Wrong Places

"Today they want our tanks, but tomorrow they will want our children," Ewa, an activist with the movement, claimed in her speech during the May 1 rally organised by the Polish Anti-War Movement in the centre of Warsaw.

Ewa, who said she was a mother of four, appealed to other parents to oppose her country's involvement in the war in Ukraine, arguing that soon Poland would be caught up in a direct military confrontation with Russia and "Polish sons" would be conscripted into the armed forces.

"This is a war for American dollars," Ewa said at the end of her speech. "Yankees go home!" she concluded, with the crowd of around 200 people picking up on the chant.

The Polish Anti-War Movement is the most recent in a lengthening list of actors who oppose what they call "the Ukrainization of Poland" in the public space, many of them associated with the far-right of the political spectrum. While no clear links to Russia have been established, experts warn that these should be investigated much more thoroughly given how much the "anti-Ukrainization" message fits with Russian propaganda goals in this country.

A 'Peace March' organised by Leszek Sykulski's #PolishAntiwarMovement in Warsaw, 1 May 2023. Photo: Twitter / #PolishAntiwarMovement 'Pacifist' movement

The Polish Anti-War Movement is primarily the initiative of Leszek Sykulski, an academic specialising in defence issues, who was once a security analyst in the office of the late president Lech Kaczynski and a member of a commission investigating Poland's secret services led by the Law and Justice party (PiS) hardliner Antoni Macierewicz.

In the first months of the movement, Sykulski advertised it side by side with Sebastian Piton, who became notorious in Poland...

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