Warsaw’s flirting with Kiev has failed. It continued for several years no matter what political forces were in power in Poland and despite anti-Polish statements and demonstrative diplomatic slaps by Ukraine’s leadership.
Polish politicians were ready to forgive Ukrainian “friends” for all the insults and humiliations for consistent and deliberate intensification of enmity towards Russia and creation of an image “of common enemy of Poland and Ukraine.” This is the dominating factor in Warsaw’s foreign policy. However, the progressive Banderization of Ukraine has angered the Poles making the Polish government change the tone in contacts with its eastern neighbor drastically. The current Warsaw-Kiev strain has put on hold the December visit by Andrzej Duda to Ukraine.
Noteworthy that representatives of the Polish government and opposition had insistently forced their “loyalty and friendship” on Ukraine for many years. For instance, in December 2013, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the than largest opposition party, Law and Justice, known for his unwillingness to travel, suddenly occurred at Maidan in Kiev. He did not mind standing under red-and-black flags of Ukrainian Insurgent Army or beside odious politicians like Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyagnibok (his Liberty Party openly admired “bravery” of UIA cutthroats and demanded separation of 19 regions from Poland and unification with Ukraine), let alone Vitali Klitschko. Along with these politicians he led many-thousand-strong rally and addressed those present saying: “Brothers, I am sure that you will win. Europe needs you!” The Polish politician welcomed the crowd with the known slogan: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!” though the Poles associate that slogan with Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the atrocities by Bandera gangs that exterminated about 200,000 civilians in Poland, mostly women, children and elderly people, during the massacre in Volhynia (1943-1944).
He was not confused even after some brave Polish journalists dared to blame him – despite the rules of “political correctness” – for walking together with Banderites and Fascists, the glorifiers of SS and Gestapo.
Another discrediting incident happened to Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, for instance, prior to anniversary of Auschwitz liberation he said the concentration camp was liberated by …Ukrainians. The reason of such discrediting statement was not so much the Polish diplomat’s poor knowledge of history (studying seven long years at Philosophy and History Department of Wroclaw University he has not learned that the First Ukrainian Front that liberated Auschwitz had nothing to do with Ukrainian nationalism), but his efforts to flirt with Ukraine and annoy the “common enemy” Russia at the same time.
In April 2015, literally on the last days of his presidential term and amid heated election campaign, President Bronislaw Komorowski travelled to Kiev. Addressing the Supreme Rada deputies, Komorowski with unconcealed amusement talked about common history and close relations of the two peoples, Poland’s solidarity and permanent support to Ukraine. As to the “past confrontation of the two peoples,” the Polish president explained it with “interference of third parties.” Of course, he meant Russia.
Scarcely has the Polish guest left the Supreme Rada when the parliamentarians demonstratively passed the law defining members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as “fighters for freedom and revival of Ukrainian statehood.” The law criminalizes denial of that “heroism” (particularly, by the Polish historians who have different view of those “heroic” atrocities). Despite these slaps in the face of Poland, President Komorowski rolled out the red carpet for Askold Lozinsky, President of the World Congress of Ukrainians, whom one of prominent Polish historians publicly called “a 200-percent Banderite.”
The Polish-Ukrainian relations will hardly experience any changes now, after the Law and Justice Party has got a full power in Poland (its representative Andrzej Duda won the presidential election two years ago and afterwards the party won majority of seats in the parliament and the right to form the government independently, without coalition).
The new government continued flirting with Kiev and getting more and more “slaps in the face.” During his first trip to Tallinn, the new president remained committed to Warsaw’s role of “Ukraine’s lawyer in European affairs” and suggested joining the Normandy Four talks on the Ukraine crisis in Donbass and changing the format into EU-U.S.-Ukraine-Russia. The Ukrainian president gave a prompt and quite undiplomatic answer – “No!” On sidelines of the NATO Summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, 2016, Petro Poroshenko laid a wreath at the monument for the Poles killed by Ukrainian Insurgent Army, though its red-and-black symbol was demonstratively pinned down on his jacket. Even such behavior of the Ukrainian leader has not affected the “friendly and allied” relations of the two states.
During last year’s military parade on occasion of Polish Army Day celebrated on August 15, Ukrainian military marched along the Polish capital city together with Poland’s devoted NATO allies from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Romania, U.S. and Canada. After the parade, Minister of National Defense Antony Macierewicz, an outspoken Russophobe that literally every week frightens people with sooner Russian aggression against Poland, visited an orthodox cemetery in Warsaw to lay a wreath at tomb of Ukrainian General Marko Bezruchko, who fought against Bolsheviks in 1920 together with the Poles and whose troops occupied Kiev.
Earlier this year Ukrainian vandals started desecrating Polish monuments and it was the beginning of the end for the Warsaw-Kiev official “friendship.” On the night of January 9, vandals exploded the monument for the victims of Ukrainian atrocities (in Lvov) and painted the wall with the names of the killed with yellow-blue colors of the Ukrainian flag and red-and-black colors of Ukrainian Insurgent Army flag and wrote “SS” below it.
The monument that was erected in the Polish village (that is no longer Polish) to commemorate the 850 residents who were killed by local Banderites and SS-Galizien Division on February 28, 1944, was restored by the February anniversary of that tragedy. However, the successors of Bandera desecrated it in March again, leaving “SS” signs, Bandera flag symbols on it, as well as writing slogans “Death to the Poles!” “Get the hell out from Ukraine [and swear words].”
Vandals attacked also the memorial cemetery of 600 civilians of Podkamen (again in Lvov region) who were massacred by Ukrainian Insurgent Army cutthroats and SS-Galizien Division in 1944. The tombs were desecrated with red pains, swastika and slogans “Death to the Poles!”
Vandals poured paint on the monument for Polish professors in Lvov who were executed by the Nazi in July 1941 together with their families and even servants.
Simultaneously with desecration of Polish monuments, Neo-Banderites demonstratively attacked Polish diplomatic representation. In Lvov, they threw paint bottles at the Polish Consulate and wrote “Our Land” on the fence. In Kiev, vandals posted portraits of Stepan Bandera and his supporters on the Polish Embassy fence and wrote a slogan “Our Country – Our Heroes.” In Lutsk, the Polish General Consulate was fired at from grenade launcher.
Even Foreign Minister of Poland Witold Jan Waszczykowski responded to the growing Banderization of Ukraine saying he sees “Moscow’s hand” in both desecration of monuments and attacks on the diplomatic offices. After traveling to Ukraine in early November and meeting with representatives of the Polish national minorities and employees of the diplomatic representations of Poland, the minister has changed his tone. “You will not join Europe with Bandera,” he warned the Kiev government categorically. The minister said Poland will not allow “Ukrainians with extremely anti-Polish sentiments” to enter its territory. Then Waszczykowski’s black list as emerged. It includes, as he said, at least those who wear SS-Galizien uniform.
“We can see negative evolution of Ukraine’s policy in history and national identity with regard to Poland, as well as its deteriorating relations with neighbors from Central Europe. The president takes into account all these facts,” President Duda’s chief aide Krzysztof Szczerski said.
Andrzej Duda’s visit to Ukraine scheduled for December is on hold. Minister Waszczykowski does not conceal that he advises the president to cancel the visit.
In this light, last Saturday, Polish Ambassador to Ukraine was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where he faced indignation of the Ukrainian leadership at Poland’s refusal to let Secretary of the State Interdepartmental Commission for the Immortalization of the memory of participants in the antiterrorist operation, victims of war and political repressions Svyatoslav Sheremet, into its territory. The Ukrainian side demanded explanations from the diplomat. Sheremet was the first to be put on Waszczykowski’s black list. This is only the beginning. The strain in the Warsaw-Kiev relations will just grow.
Alexander Shtorm (Warsaw) for EADaily