Former PM Donald Tusk says partitioning Ukraine was never mentioned at any meeting he had with President Putin, contradicting remarks Poland's former foreign minister made to Politico.
“The whole story shows that human memory is fallible,” Tusk, who takes up the president of the European Council role in December, told TOK FM radio on Friday morning, further adding to the embarrassment of former foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who originally told the American magazine's web site on Monday that Vladimir Putin had suggested Poland should join in partitioning Ukraine with Russia.
On Tuesday, Sikorski told journalists, however, that his “memory had failed him” and that there was no such meeting in Moscow between Tusk and Putin in Moscow, as he claimed in the original interview.
Donald Tusk, who was prime minister of Poland between 2007 and September this year, conformed no such meeting took place in the Russian capital.
“Ukraine was never on the agenda of talks I had with President Putin,” Tusk said, adding that the meeting in Moscow in February 2008 was not one-to-one but a group session, attended by “four or five people”.
When retracting his earlier remarks to Politico magazine, Sikorski said that he had mistaken the supposed Moscow meeting with statements Putin and made at the NATO summit in Bucharest three months later in 2008 when the Russian president told the then president of the US, George W. Bush and others that “Ukraine was not a country”.
Donald Tusk has now said that from the beginning, Sikorski “has not best explained this matter” and that the confusion has arisen because of the “many statements the Russia authorities have made on Ukraine”.
“When Sikorski said his memory had failed him then that was the end of the matter,” Tusk said this morning.
Opposition parties reacted furiously after the initial comments by Sikorski to the American magazine, asking why, if Russia was suggesting partitioning Ukraine like a 19th century imperial power, why the former foreign minister had not informed parliament or the president of Poland and the international community of the plans.
On Thursday, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov called Sikorski's statements “lies” and Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said the former Polish foreign minister should think before he speaks.
"Before commenting on such sensitive topics, one should study all the facts and then speak to the press, instead of using mass media as a mouthpiece for this kind of allegations," Lukashevich said.
Radoslaw Sikorski was foreign minister of Poland for seven years and was active in the EU's bid to get Ukraine to sign trade and other deals with Brussels, but was removed from the foreign office in a reshuffle by new prime minister Ewa Kopacz in September to become speaker of parliament.
“Where it comes to security policy, you should restrain the desire to quickly exploit issues that are observed during a career,” President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski said this week, suggesting that Sikorski keeps quiet till he writes his memoirs. (pg)