WORLD WAR OF WORDS; Row between Poland and Russia Mars WWII Event
Byline: DON MACKAY
A POIGNANT ceremony to mark the start of the Second World War was yesterday shattered by a row between Poland and Russia.
At the exact spot where the first shots of the conflict were fired 70 years ago, Polish President Lech Kaczynski slammed Russia for "stabbing" his country in the back.
Speaking at the dawn ceremony in Gdansk, he hit out at Soviet Russia's occupation of eastern Poland two weeks into the war.
He added: "On 17 September, Poland received a stab in the back. This blow came from Bolshevik Russia."
The port city in northern Poland is where a German battleship fired at a fort - starting the war.
Later at a wreath-laying ceremony, Mr Kaczynski blamed the Nazi-Soviet pact - signed a week before Poland's invasion - for the deaths of 50million people.
He also said the Katyn massacre of 1940, in which 20,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret services, was an act of chauvinism in revenge for Polish independence.
The war of words comes as relations between Poland and Russia are increasingly strained.
The neighbouring states have different interpretations of events leading up to war.
Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin used his speech to denounce all pacts between European states and Nazi Germany - including the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact - as "morally unacceptable".
He added: "All attempts to appease the Nazis between 1934 and 1939 through various agreements and pacts were politically senseless, harmful and dangerous. "We must admit these mistakes. …