Warsaw to Kiev: “Enter Europe” with Petliura, Not Bandera

Translated by Ollie Richardson



July 11th – the day when Poland commemorates the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Volyn massacre – comes closer. Warsaw officially qualified this tragedy as genocide against the Polish population committed by Ukrainian nationalists. The bloody result of the massacre – about 30,000 people dead, according to the most modest estimates. And at the beginning of 2018 the Sejm and the Senate of Poland adopted amendments to the law on the Polish Institute of National Memory (PINM) that introduced criminal punishment up to three years of prison for those who deny the participation of Ukrainian nationalists in the crimes committed against the Poles in 1925-1950.

The head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pavel Klimkin reacted to the new legislation of Poland nervously: apparently, if Poles want to ban Bandera, then let’s ban Piłsudski and Armia Krajowa. And on March 3rd Klimkin made a demonstrative trip to mourning events in the village of Pawłokoma, where in 1945 Polish self-defense executed some hundreds of Ukrainians.

Currently the fighting on the Polish-Ukrainian “front” is of local value. At the end of April in the village of Staraya Guta in the Subcarpathian voivodeship five Poles attacked a group of Ukrainians repairing the graves in a uniate cemetery. The attackers accused Ukrainians of restoring the graves of Banderists. However, these are trifles in comparison with the informational and diplomatic cannonade that will rumble closer by July.

Warsaw will again declare a principled position: Ukraine will not enter Europe with Bandera. This was stated directly to Petro Poroshenko by the leader of the “Law and Justice” (LaJ) ruling party Jarosław Kaczyński. At the same time voices suggesting to “Maidan” Ukraine to define another idol for themselves – Symon Petliura, instead of Stepan Bandera –  are continually heard from Warsaw.

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In November of last year the President of the Polish Institute of National Memory Yaroslav Szarek in an interview to the “wpolityce.pl” publication very much definitely answered the question what can unite Poles and Ukrainians: 1920 and Symon Petliura.

What does this mean? Petliura and his union with Piłsudski was already elevated by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Bartosz Cichocki, the Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński. In the Sejm the exhibition “For your and our freedom. The union Piłsudski-Petliura” was organised. It is as if Piłsudski’s alliance with Petliura is an example of how Poland and Ukraine can be together.

The same thing was also said in the Polish media. In February the authoritative “Rzeczpospolita” published an editorial article about the Soviet-Polish war and again offered a reminder about Piłsudski’s union with Petliura against Moscow. And at the end of April “Gazeta Polska Codziennie” once again spoke about the same topic, having called the union of 1920 “the great Polish-Ukrainian political project”.

After the restoration of Poland’s independence in 1918 Józef Piłsudski became the leader of the so-called federal project. The idea was to expand the sphere of influence of Poland to the east at the expense of a formally independent, but strongly attached to and dependent on Poland States.

The project failed. Lithuania categorically refused to form a union with Poland, even a small group of Belarusian nationalists preferred to look at the Lithuanians for support. The pact signed in April, 1920, with Petliura became the only short-term success of “Piłsudski’s federation”. An eyewitness of the subsequent Polish offensive in Ukraine remembered that after capturing Kiev, its new Polish owners at every opportunity emphasised that they came as liberators, that they are allies of Ukrainians (David Zaslavsky; “Poles in Kiev in 1920”). And while Petliura, who actually handed over Ukraine to Piłsudski, stayed in Vinnytsia, the Poles, although only for a while, took real power into their hands.

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The Polish dictator acted in the spirit of the concept of Intermarium, which was invented long before him, and reduced it to the fact that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth should seize the space from the Baltic to the Black Sea. There were plans to include the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the and the southern Slavs in this hypothetical territorial formation, but the eastern Slavs, primarily Ukrainians and Belarusians, had to become the main “object”. Their absorption by the Polish State had to move the border with Russia far to the east, displacing Russians to Asia. Before World War II in Poland there was the popular “Tęgoborze Prophecy”, written by “Adam Mickiewicz’s ghost” (during a spiritualistic session, of course). The “ghost” promised that war would soon begin, after which a victorious Poland will rise “from sea to sea”. The Polish layperson believed it with the same kind of enthusiasm that they believed the information in the media about Polish planes bombing Berlin in the first days of September in 1939.

Today Polish leaders following political correctness don’t use the term “Intermarium”, but Andrzej Duda, when he was elected President in 2015, stated that he was considering the idea of creating a partnership bloc from the Baltic to the Black and Adriatic seas. The leader of “LaJ” Jarosław Kaczyński also argues the same thing. And Petliura being a historical character is seen as the key that will help to “include” Ukraine in the sphere of Polish geopolitical influence “from sea to sea”.

By the way, Jarosław Kaczyński mentioned somehow that the “Intermarium” project is supported by the United States. A few days ago the Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak went to Washington and asked to deploy in Poland an American division in addition to the already available brigade combat group. The division wasn’t given, but they assured that they are open to cooperation.

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