Initiators of this Appeal are asking for the popularization of the Appeal among historians and people of goodwill. 

Appeal to people of goodwill in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine

to reject the principle of “division of the spheres of influence”

The current international political crisis caused by the concentration of Russian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border, the threat of war, and the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, fill us, historians from Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, with the greatest anxiety.

The neo-imperialist language of Russian diplomacy, using formulations about “spheres of influence” as an allegedly legitimate category in establishing international relations, is unacceptable to us. It evokes associations with the events that led to the outbreak of World War II and its tragic consequences: the deaths of tens of millions of people, forced migrations, deportations and expulsions of civilians on a massive scale, and the subsequent enslavement of countries that found themselves in the Soviet “sphere of influence.” We would like to remind you that the issue of the demarcation of the spheres of interest in Eastern Europe was a keywording of the so-called secret additional protocol on the demarcation of the spheres of interest of Germany and the USSR to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939, which made possible the cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Third Reich and their military aggression and occupation of Poland, and soon later of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The proposals put forward by president Putin to demarcate spheres of influence are dangerous not only for the sovereignty of Ukraine, or other countries of the former so-called Eastern Bloc and former Soviet republics, against which the Kremlin is making demands that limit their freedom to decide on political and military alliances. It also poses a danger to other countries neighboring Russia, as well as the Scandinavian countries of Finland and Sweden. At the same time, it undermines the principles developed in the second half of the 20th century within the framework of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, of peaceful coexistence of states and nations, as well as the democratic values that have become part of the modern identity of Europeans.

We appreciate all the activities of independent and sovereign Ukraine leading to the creation of a system of democracy and civil liberties in this country. The Ukrainian changes of recent years show the way for other nations fighting for the right of self-determination in democratic systems. They are also a challenge to authoritarian systems that fear the spread of the values of open civil societies. We are also grateful for the activities of all those Russians, including their critical assessments, which lead to settling accounts with the difficult past of the Soviet Union. For they form the basis for a common peaceful future, for good neighborly relations, and for friendship between our peoples.

Our goal is not to criticize other societies and their patriotic values as long as they are not based on contempt for the rights of other peoples or aggression against other states. Our goal is to respect borders and the right of self-determination and to protest against attempts by one country to impose its political solutions by force on other countries. Despite all the differences arising from the complicated history of Central and Eastern Europe and the experiences that divide the nations represented by the signatories of this appeal, we wish to ask all people of goodwill in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine to respect the existing borders and support the territorial unity of Ukraine with Crimea and Donbas. At the same time, we want to respect the sovereignty of existing countries as a basis for lasting peace.

As historians, we realize that a return to thinking in terms of “spheres of influence” could lead to the tragedy that Europe and the world experienced eighty years ago.”

Full text of the Appeal is available at this link:

The Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe initiates and promotes activities that develop peaceful relationships between nations, social groups, and individuals.

The Foundation applies social concepts developed by the World War II German resistance group, the Kreisau Circle, by advancing European mutual understanding. The Foundation encourages reflection on historical matters and contributes to the creation of a common European historical identity. Their aim is to build communities that integrate people of different world views, beliefs, and political affiliations.