Why Kremlin’s anti-Ukrainian campaign is failing in Poland

ploandUkr

 

2015/03/12 • Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Roman Kabachiy

Russia’s informational war against Ukraine, the European Union and the U.S. has taught our Western neighbors to be more careful when judging Polish-Ukrainian relations. If on the official level of Kyiv and Warsaw a certain shift from “strategic partnership” to pragmatic relations can be observed, then on the societal level a decrease in the number of anti-Ukrainian provocations and hysteria can be observed as well. What we can see instead is that another process is taking place, one that had been severely lacking in Ukrainian-Polish relations for decades. The Poles are making an honest effort to soberly asses what is happening in Ukraine.

Aiding in this effort is the significant presence in Ukraine and especially in the ATO zone of Polish journalists from publications with various political orientations. It is worth noting that today the moderately right-wing and left-central publications are on the side of Ukraine; for them Putin’s aggression is obvious. This is true even though relations at the highest level have been and at times have remained ambiguous. It is enough to recall the prescription of the physician-premier Eva Kopacz, who declared that she would “lock up the children inside if there was an attack in the street.” In case anyone forgot, the issue had to do with possible military aid to Ukraine, which Poland rejected at the time. Now, after the premier’s visit to Kyiv on January 19, the prospects for assistance have been outlined more clearly.

Representatives of the Polish government are constantly hinting to their Ukrainian colleagues that real reforms should be undertaken for continued collaboration, and that they should not wait for Poland to give Ukraine something, for example its coal to replace the coal lost in the Donbas. At the same time, they wonder why Ukraine is turning to Merkel and Hollande for external negotiations on the Donbas conflict instead of to official Warsaw.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna has even stated that any talks on Ukraine without Poland are equivalent to talks on Algeria without France, or Ethiopia without Italy. The minister did not intend to offend Ukraine but to explain in language understood by the West that when it comes to Ukrainian matters Poland is as knowledgeable as France is on the Maghreb. Fortunately, in Ukraine little  attention was paid to these comments (there was actually more whining in Poland). But Kopach did come to Ukraine without Schetyn, who visited Kyiv a week ago.

Instead, at the level of the general public the situation is quite different from the one in the corridors of powers. What is significant is Polish society’s  massive engagement in volunteer activities to help Ukraine. Every week cars with humanitarian aid go to eastern Ukraine. A dozen or so volunteer groups have been created, including those formed through the efforts of the Ukrainian community in Poland (both the descendants of ethnic Ukrainian deported as part of the Operation Vistula and those who recently settled in the country above the Vistula). (Operation Vistula was the forced resettlement of the Ukrainian minority in post-war Poland to previously German territories west of the Vistula river — Ed.)

Polish President Bronislaw Komorovski has even given state awards to three activists for developing relations with Ukraine ( though of course it would have been more logical to ask the Ukrainian president why he hasn’t done so, especially since the help is for Ukraine).

The Poles have plunged into the intricacies of Ukrainian politics, demonstrating support for Nadiya Savchenko, drawing caricatures of Putin and actively participating in polemics in social networks — no longer about the lost Kresy (eastern lands that formerly belonged to Poland — Ed.) and the Volyn massacres but about Mariupol, life in occupied Crimea, withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Debalseve. At the same time, they realize that the internet is overflowing with Russian-employed trolls to a much greater degree than in neighboring countries such as Slovakia or Germany. Not surprisingly, historian Timothy Snyder believes that Kremlin’s information war in Europe is more dangerous than in Ukraine, since  Ukrainians during a year of protests have learned how to detect falsehoods in any messages originating in Russia. The same thing could be said of the Poles. Messages stating “Drive out Russian trolls from the Polish internet” have been spreading in social networks on the internet and the trolls are being promptly removed by the administrators of social network groups. A classic example is a Facebook group, the “Polish-Ukrainian friendship,” which currently has 4,500 members. Poles predominate, who actively read Ukrainian and Russian. They worry that someone in Ukraine is setting fire to churches and fueling internal strife, and they argue about how quickly Ukraine will implement reforms.

Studies on the nature of the Ukrainian Maidan and the conflict in the Donbas have added to the growing understanding of Ukraine . There are fewer and fewer journalists who look for anti-Polish attitudes in black and red flags and portraits of Bandera. Photos of the first anniversary of the Maidan victory showing participants carrying Polish and Belarusian flags together with Ukrainian blue and yellow and red and black ones attract fewer hostile comments. Moreover, the catholic newspaper Tygodnik Powszechny has devoted a column explaining the “new meaning of old colors,” and the writer Wojciech Mucha has written the book Blood and earth: the Ukrainian revolution that explains the origin of the red and black flag as a symbol of “Ukraine that is fighting.”

The rhetoric of right-wing authors has changed as well. After thousands of deaths in eastern Ukraine and enormous self-sacrifice of Ukrainians, writers who initially had adopted fairly radical positions after Maidan now increasingly insist that Ukraine is fighting for Poland as well. This is why the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada’s tribute to Roman Shukhevych on the anniversary of his death on March 5, just before the visit to Poland of Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov, attracted practically no attention in Poland. The figure of Shukhevych and other UPA heroes continue to fuel controversy in Poland, and Russians never tire of reminding Poles of old historical traumas. We only need to remember the hysterical response of Russian Foreign Minister Serhiy Lavrov to a Polish journalist at a press conference, filled with horror stories about Ukrainian nationalists.

However, such attempts have limited prospects now. Both Ukrainians and Poles have long since outgrown the roles that had been prescribed for them in the Kremlin.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Espreso TV

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  • canuke

    The Poles are too smart to be taken in by such primitive RuSSian propaganda.

  • Dirk Smith

    Poland has been equally subjugated by the muscovite vermin.

  • puttypants

    Thank God…finally it’s time not to let Russia divide and conquer.

  • Murf

    Sun Tzu said, ‘”now your enemy and know your self and in a thousand battles you need never fear defeat.”
    That about sums u the Poles with regards to Russian propaganda.
    I am also glad to see them modernizing their military capabilities.
    They are buying:
    Two mobile Konigsburg Anti ship batteries.
    40 western attack helicopters.
    Updated F-16s
    Over 300 German leopard tanks.
    Most ambitiously they are developing the “Shield of Poland” anti air and ballistic missile network independent of the US anti ballistic system.
    Poland knows well it’s enemy.

  • Gryzelda Wrr

    There are at least three objective reasons why spending Russian taxpayers’ money on info war in Poland is a waste.

    1. We know our history and it is so closely tied to the history of Ukraine and Russia, that none of them is complete or intelligible without the others.

    2. There are many Ukrainians in Poland, so almost everybody knows someone who is worried about their family living in Ukraine. Some of us knew people who were killed. They are not an abstraction. I saw tears in eyes of a person who had known about the death of his dearest ones in Debaltseve only a minute before. To look in his eyes was very difficult. To say anything almost impossible.

    3. The most important thing however is that we know by heart the propagandistic tricks used by Putin’s media.

    -Russians are protecting Russian minority? Of course, in XVIII they protected religious minorities in Poland. The result was the fall of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In September 1939 Russians protected Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuanian working class against Polish nobles. The result was our defeat in the beginning of the IIWW.

    -Ukraine is only a puppet of Western powers? Of course, Poland has always been the same. See the poster below. It’s from 1920 and it says in Russian: “Poland, a pig trained in Paris”.

    -Ukrainians are Nazis? That’s obvious. In the 50sAfter the IIWW Polish soldiers were accused, condemned and executed for collaboration with Nazi Germany, among them was even the deputy commander-in-chief of the Home Army, one of the biggest resistence forces in the occuppied Europe.

    We have been targets and objects of Russian propaganda fo centuries. It main effect is the saying that every Polish speaker knows perfectly: “Prawda, gówno-prawda i Ruska prawda” which could be translated more or less as: truth, half-truth, Russian truth:)
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f8/Polish_Pig_trained_in_Paris%2C_Russian_propaganda_poster_1920.PNG/220px-Polish_Pig_trained_in_Paris%2C_Russian_propaganda_poster_1920.PNG

    • Turtler

      Bingo.

      No matter how bad Bandera or the UPA were to Poles* or the Polish republics were to Ukrainians both sides have suffered vastly more from Russian oppression. The UPA/OUN might have killed tens of thousands of Poles on the Eastern frontier that the Ukrainians believed was their national territory. Both Tsarist Russia and The USSR killed tens of millions of them on their home territory because it was possible.

      • Bursin

        Tens of millions! You are a brainwashed bigoted russophobe and spead here nonesensical tales

        • Turtler

          No, you’re just a brainwashed apologist for terror who can’t face the truth.

          https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM

          But pray tell, if the Soviet Union (and Russian Empires before it) didn’t kill tens of millions, how many did they actually kill? Would it somehow be “acceptable” to murder “only” a few million?

          • Bursin

            They did not kill at all. In Revolution there was class struggle and ideological but not ethnic conflict.

          • Turtler

            “They did not kill at all.”

            And with those words, you show yourself to be the moral equivalent of Holocaust denying trash, and one of the Most Fucking Stupid human beings I have had the displeasure to encounter.

            The Soviets absolutely did kill, and they said so themselves. Whether it was internally organizing it, gloating about it (take a look at Tukhachevsky’s decorations), or even slinging accusations (most famously by Trotsky after he was ostracized and fled).

            How daft do you have to be to ignore that?

            “in Revolution there was class struggle and ideological but not an ethnic conflict.”

            A: Killing people over class struggle and ideological struggle is still killing. Murdering millions of people- including innocent men, women, and children- over their (alleged) class is hardly respectable compared to murdering them because of their (alleged) race.

            B: What’s more, it is outright false. One of the major theaters of the war was in Ukraine, where Ukrainian nationalists fighting for independence were a strong third side in the generalized White-Red war.

            And that’s before I get into Central Asia, where the Basmachi Islamists and Turkic nationalists fought *every single Russian faction regardless of ideology, class, or what polka dots they wore* for the entire length of the conflict.

            And I could go on to Armenia, Georgia, and several other examples that are more dubious (like Siberian separatism/autonomism). But the point stands.

            You don’t know a great deal about what happened in the revolution.

            “And it was Russians who suffered most from the bolshevik regime.”

            Depends on the definition of “suffered most.” They certainly were the largest number of victims that suffered, died, starved, and endured degredation for the “Party” and its’ abuses, and on that much I do agree.

            But the Soviets never tried to outright exterminate the Russian people or their entire culture or language.

            The same cannot be said for the Volga Germans, the Crimean Tartars, the Chechens, the Kazakhs, the Ukrainians, the Lithuanians, the Estonians, or Karelian Finns. Those people were killed to outright remove them as cultural and political factors, and had their languages and cultures suppressed in favor of (now Sovietized) Russian. And in some cases their populations were driven to the verge of extinction in the process (as the Ukrainians in the Holodomor and the Volga Germans can attest).

            That in no way means that Russians did not suffer and die at the hands of the same totalitarian regime that used their language as a bludgeon against others. It does not mean they were not innocent.

            But it does mean that the Soviet regime used the ghost of Russian imperium to terrorize and control those that weren’t Russian. Not unlike the last two Reichs did while oppressing and killing many Germans.

            “For example, the founder of Soviet Police was a Pole, Dzerzinsky.”

            A: You mean Soviet *SECRET* Police, in the vein of the Cheka lineage. There were multiple Soviet police agencies (including the bog standard cops) and they had different foundings.

            B: Even that it’s dubious. The Cheka was founded by decree of Lenin and the SNK; Dzerzhinsky was the one *they appointed* to build it up and govern it, but within the guidelines they set forth.

            And most basically:

            C: More of a point of order, but Dzerzinsky’s family had lived in what is now Belarus for decades, and were by most accounts rather Russified. You can tell this because you spell it *-ky*, not the more typically Polish *-ki*.

            It does not change his barbarity or culpability for his crimes, and the Soviet Regime was willing (on occasion) to let sympathetic foreigners help manage things (case in point, Reed). But it does underline.

            You seem more interested in making a point than actually knowing history worth a damn. Because it’s easier to blame the Soviet secret police on a single “Pole.” Rather than a “largely Russified Polish-Lithuanian who Did Not Work Alone.”

            “But this fact doesn’t stir anti-Polish sentiment in Russians”

            No, largely because anti-Polish sentiment was already part and parcel of the intellectual and cultural climate and had been for decades. Which you can see because the Tsarist Whites first refused cooperation with Pilsudski etc. al., and then a fair number of them even volunteered to support their old Bolshevik enemies against the Poles. Largely on Nationalistic grounds.

            There had been decades of mutual violence and warring between the Russian occupation authorities and the Polish populations in the partition. While far from all Russians felt like it, the actively sympathetic/liberal voices (“For Our Freedom and Yours” started as a message to Russian reformists) had been drowned out after the early 19th century, meaning both sides closed cultural ranks.

            Just look at what political uses Taras Bulba was put to since it was released near the 1864 rebellion, for instance.

            “Iron Felix” came in DECADES too late to create anti-Polish Russian feeling (or anti-Russian Polish feeling). Though it was handily exploited by both sides.

            “As for Tsarist Russia, it is not clear what you are talking about. The Uprising was crushed speedily and not much Polish blood was lost. ”

            And this is why living life while ignorant is a hard thing.

            That little rebuttal (or what passes for it) willfully ignores a lot of things. Starting with the fact that it was UprisingS, not just one. And it was part of something like three and a half centuries of conflict between the Tsarist government and the Poles/Lithuanians, as you conveniently hint at in the next sentence. Much of which could get obscenely bloody indeed (Suvarov killed over a dozen thousand people in just one day, in one suburb of Warsaw in 1794 putting down one revolt).

            And this is before I get into the fact that (again, very much unlike Bandera and OUN, who did their dirty acts more or less exclusively in modern day Ukraine) Poland and the frontier was far from the only place Russia bloodied its’ sword. One particularly odd Polish uprising started in Siberia over those that were deported befre, and in the Caucasus and Bulgaria Turkish and Muslim populations vanished under Tsarist administration.

            The Imperial Army killed somewhere on the scale of hundreds of thousands af Circassians- many of them innocent- and expelled millions over the decades “pacifying” the Caucasus.

            And I could go on.

            “And don’t forget about hundeds of years of Polish oppression of Malorossia which preceded Poland’s loss of independence.”

            I’m not forgetting it. In fact, I’ve been thinking of writing some historical fiction about it.

            It just wasn’t terribly relevant in terms of what Poles or Ukrainians think or fear, especially the former.

            (Who do have an unfortunate tendency to overlook that the Ukrainian and Belarusian lands in the Commonwealth were not just rebelling over sour grapes; take a look at the griping over the “With Fire and Sword” film adaptation But while that’s worth covering, it’s not that relevant to what we’re covering here).

            “The contemporary Polish can but only sympathize with the Ukrainian cause, it is natural, it was the Polish russophobic spirit that began to create Ukrainian project.”

            And this is where you re-confirm that yes, You Are An Idiot.

            How did the Poles or their spirit “create” Khmelnitsky (the guy who rose up against them, fought them, beat them, and often killed them in very nasty ways) or his reluctance to allow the Cossacks to be completely subjected to Muscovite imperial control?

            How did the Poles “create” the autonomous Cossack villages and territories that had endured for centuries since the fall of Kyivan Rus and the death of stability thanks to the yearly “harvesting of the Steppes”?

            At most, the experience under Polish occupation did separate those living in Ukraine from those living further North and helped pull things further apart than they otherwise were or would’ve been. But the idea that they created it altogether is hogwash.

            “And how many millions of Russians did Poles kill when they invaded Moscow in 1612?”

            Let’s start with all the ways this is stupid.

            Firstoff, Moscow is the City, Muscovy is the territory. As in the “Lands of Moscow/under the control of Moscow.”

            And in the former they killed exactly zero millions, because *the population numbered less than a quarter million at the time.* o there just weren’t enough.

            Finessing the numbers actually killed by them during the invasions and occupations in the 1610’s is trickier because of how they were competing with misgovernment, other invaders, and terrible weather. But it would most likely be about 500,000-2 million. Three as an upper limit.

            “How many millions of Polish did Germans kill in Hitler’s times and before him?”

            You mean the same Hitler’s times that were helped by his alliance with the Soviets, culminating in the joint invasion, occupation, and oppression of them?

            Over five million in Hitler’s time, and before him maybe half that (though considering the Second Reich was defeated in WWI before it could carry out its’ nastiest plans for Eastern and Central Europe, that figure could’ve skyrocketed with a bit less luck).

            Which is a major reason why Poles are still iffy about Germans. As well as Russians, considering the latter often teamed up with them against the Poles (see: the Partitions).

            “And for reasons of ethnic hatred only.”

            A: Who the FUCK would care about something being motivated “only” by ethnic hatred or not when they’re being dragged out of their homes and bayonetted or shot?

            Someone with murderous intent towards you is going to concern you regardless of why that intent exists, regardless of whether it’s because they hate you for your race, for your religion, or for your social status. w

            And

            B: Even then it’s not true. Plenty of people were killed in the partitions for reasons that were not racial. Often because the Poles tended to be so damn stubborn at trying to gain independence, and so damn liberal they were domestic problems. Both of which got them killed.

            Which was why you saw the partitioning powers supporting the anti-reform faction of a Polish Civil War (the Targowica Confederation). And why the ethnically German and Hungarian Habsburg officers hired ethnically Polish and Ukrainian peasants to murder the ethnically Polish and Lithuanian revolutionary nobles of Galicia and Krakow.

            “And how many millions of Polish lives did the liberating Soviet army save?

            Simple. Zero.

            Because the Soviet Army liberated nothing. At best it replaced one tyrant with a marginally less murderous one depending on the circumstances. And the Polish lives likely wouldn’t have been lost in such great numbers if the Soviet Army did not engage in trade and notesharing with the Nazis, and did not ATTACK Poland in conjunction with it.

            Asking me to give credit to the Soviet Union for “saving” Polish lives is like asking me to give credit to a murderous bank robber in a duo juuust because his co-conspirator turned on him and tried to kill him. And who then went on to kill a(nother) tenth of the people in the bank while saying “You’re lucky! If my partner had done it he would’ve killed you all!”

            “Why don’t you ask yourself this sort of questions?”
            Because I already have.
            I do not have to use them to try and shove them in places where they’re irrelevant.
            You cannot say the same.

          • Bursin

            They did not kill at all.”

            “And with those words, you show yourself to be the moral equivalent of Holocaust denying trash, and one of the Most Fucking Stupid human beings I have had the displeasure to encounter”

            As you deny the genocide of Donbass people by the Ukrarmy you are a dirty scoundrel and a moral equivalent of Nazi Germans

          • Turtler

            “As you deny the genocide of Donbass people by the Ukrarmy”

            Yes I am, you flipping moron.

            There has been zero sign that there has been more violence than what usually happens in a guerrilla war. Starting with the fact that over hal of the “Donbas people’ are LOYALISTS. Their volunteer units probably make up as much of the Ukrainian Army forces as the “regular” troops.

            The Ukrainian Army can scarcely be committing genocide against itself.

            “ou are a dirty scoundrel and a moral equivalent of Nazi Germans”

            Translation: I have no idea what Nazi Germans were like but I’m just going to accuse you of it anyway because my handler told me that.

            Very persuasive.

            Listen, Dumkopf. I can find direct, well documented statements, policies, and paperwork from the Nazis and Soviets authorizing things like the ethnic based murders of the Crimean Tartars and Jews. This feeble attempt at projection is trying to divert attention from that, and how you claimed otherwise and were proven to be an ignorant totalitarian apologist.

            In the meantime, you cannot provide a single credible source about the “genocide” of the Donbas. If you could, you probably would’ve tried already.

            So don’t waste my time.

          • Bursin

            I could find numerous proofs but I don;t want to deal with an ugly American suprematist and russophobe like you.

          • Turtler

            Riiight.

            The person who couldn’t even find public record documentation of Soviet ethnic genocide can find “numerous proofs” that the Kremlin- with all its’ resources and obvious focus- couldn’t?

            Color me unimpressed.

            “but I don;t want to deal with an ugly American suprematist and russophobe like you.”
            A: I’m not a Russophobe. I’m a Dictatorphobe. I am afraid of and hate dictators, including the one that tyrannizes and oppresses Russia and her people.
            B: “You don’t want to deal with…” someone like me?
            Well TOO DAMN BAD. Because you’re going to have to.

          • Michel Cloarec

            Are you sick ? seek help !
            Are you frustrated , your problems !
            Are you humiliated ! Blame yourself !
            BUT DON´T LIE in absurdum .

    • Michel Cloarec

      Do you think it would be something good if Poland was more involved in the discussions about ceasefire for Ukraine. ?

      • Gryzelda Wrr

        It would be very good. Russia would have to withdraw completetly or nuke us all:) Polish style of negotiations is not that far from the Russian style:)
        Seriously speaking, I think Russia would never agree to have us as the intermediary an we would never sign anything like the Minsk document.

  • TenTermos

    Well, it’s an article from 2015/03/12 – and right now all I can do is laugh at it. After the formal UPA glorification public support for Ukraine in Poland is dropping and will most likely continue to do so.