Poland’s policy of flirting with Ukraine has ended in a total fiasco. That policy was aimed mostly against Russia and was the Poles’ overall strategy irrespective of who was in power in Poland and even in spite of the Ukrainians’ anti-Polish moves. The climax of the Polish-Ukrainian conflict was Poland’s decision to adopt a law criminalizing propaganda of the Bandera ideology and denial of the military crimes committed by Ukrainian allies of the Nazis (particularly, the Volhynia Massacre of 1943-1945).
Over the last years, the Polish authorities have been consistently imposing their “loyalty and friendship” on their Ukrainian counterparts. They even were on the barricades during the Euromaidan. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who led the Polish opposition at that time and who is one of the leading Polish politicians for the moment, was really unsurpassed.
In Dec 2013, he appeared in the Maidan despite the red and black flags of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and odious figures like Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok (his Svoboda party was not only delighted with the “exploits” committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army thugs during WWII but also insisted that Poland should give Ukraine back 19 districts), not mentioning Vitali Klitschko. He was in the vanguard of the demonstration and even addressed those present the following words: “My Ukrainian brothers! I am confident that you will win. Europe needs you.”
Kaczynski’s last words were “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!” – even though for the Poles this greeting slogan is associated with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the atrocities of Bandera gangs, who killed 200,000 Poles during the Volhynia Massacre (most of them were women, children and old people). Nor was Kaczynski embarrassed when some Polish mass media appeared with angry comments like “How could he stand side by side with Bandera thugs and Nazis, with those glorifying SS and Gestapo!”
One more example of the self-abasing policy of the Polish authorities was the behavior of Bronislaw Komorowski, who was Polish president at that moment. In Apr 2015, Komorowski appeared at Ukraine’s Supreme Rada with a speech about Polish-Ukrainian friendship and solidarity even though he was running for a new term at that time and was well aware that that move would spoil his chances. His key explanation for the Polish-Ukrainian past confrontation was provocations by third forces (Komorowski certainly meant Russia).
No sooner had he left the hall than the Ukrainian MPs approved a law recognizing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army members as “fighters for the freedom and revival of the Ukrainian statehood” and stipulating criminal punishment for those thinking otherwise, particularly, for some Polish historians regarding those “heroes” as criminals.
Later Komorowski received Askold Lozinski, President of the World Congress of Ukrainians, the one whom one Polish historian called “a 200% Bandera man.”
It was for the sake of the selfsame mythical solidarity with Ukraine that the Poles fought hard against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. They were even ready to pay money for that illusionary friendship: they have so far lent the Kiev regime as much as 1bn EUR – well aware that they will never get that money back.
The end to that friendship came last year: Jan 8-9, 2017, a group of vandals blew up the monument to the victims of the Huta Pieniacka Massacre in Ukraine’s Lviv Oblast. One of the surviving plaques was painted in yellow and blue (the colors of the Ukrainian flag), the other in red and black (the colors of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army flag).
By the February anniversary of the massacre in Huta Pieniacka (once a Polish village where Ukrainian members of the SS-Galizien Division together with local Bandera thugs killed almost 850 people on Feb 28, 1944), the monument was restored. But in March it was attacked once again, with a swastika, a Bandera flag and anti-Polish slogans left at the site as a result.
In Podkamene (Lviv Oblast), vandals attacked one more memorial site: the graves of 600 Poles killed by Ukrainian Insurgent Army and SS-Galizien members in 1944. The vandals poured red paint on the graves, drew a swastika and wrote “Death to Ljachs (Poles)!”
Polish monuments were not the only targets for the Neo-Banderites: in Lviv, they threw bottles with paint at the Polish Consulate General and wrote “It’s Our Land!” on its fence; in Kiev, they hang portraits of Stepan Bandera and his comrades and wrote “Our Country – Our Heroes” on the fence; in Lutsk, they shelled the Polish Consulate General using a grenade launcher!
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski blamed Russia for the incidents but later, after a visit to Ukraine and meetings with local Poles, he changed his stance.
He was indignant at the Ukrainian authorities’ attitude towards the Polish cemetery in Lviv. “Who do those people bother? They are dead and cannot bother anybody. All we are asking for is to remember them!” he said passionately. It’s a pity that the Polish authorities are not as much passionate about the memory of Soviet soldiers - the people who once liberated their country from the Nazis and whose monuments they are destroying today.
“You will not enter Europe with Bandera,” Waszczykowski said recently, adding that Poland would not let anti-Polish Ukrainians into its territory. On the top of his blacklist are people wearing SS-Galizien uniform.
The last straw that broke the Polish-Ukrainian friendship was the Polish Parliament’s law criminalizing (a fine or three years in prison) denial of crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists and members of Ukrainian forces that cooperated with Nazis during WWII. The Polish President ratified the law on Feb 6, 2018.
The Supreme Rada condemned the law and accused Poland of distorting the concept of Ukrainian nationalism. A group of Ukrainian nationalists organized a demonstration in front of the Polish Embassy in Kiev. They carried Ukrainian Insurgent Army flags and banners saying “Bandera Will Come and Will Put Things Right!” In Lutsk, they carried banners saying “Bandera and Shukhevych – Heroes of the Ukrainian People!”
Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk said that the 1,200,000 Ukrainians living in Poland were the fifth Ukrainian front. “They are now in Poland and they will take up arms if needed.”
Polish historians are not worried though. One of them says that Ukraine is no longer interested in good terms with Poland as its priority is Germany. “I would be happy if I am mistaken but I think that in future Ukraine may turn into our enemy,” the historian said.
Carl Bildt (Swedish Prime Minister in 1991-1994 and Foreign Minister in 2006-2014) may have been right when saying that Ukraine was not going to either the west or the east but was just sinking.
And while Ukraine is sinking, its citizens are emigrating and one of their key destinations is Poland – especially as they don’t any visas for entering that country. Head of Euromaidan Warszawa Natalia Panchenko told RP.pl that those people are let into the country if they have documents confirming their origin but if they are not firm enough in their answers concerning Bandera, they are forced to say goodbye to Poland!
Alexander Shtorm, Warsaw, specially for EADaily