Russia’s history matches backfire, bringing Poland and Ukraine even closer – EURACTIV.com


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In this week’s edition: Reconstruction of Ukraine, NATO path and enlargement priorities.


When Russia invaded Ukraine, history once again became a weapon in the hands of Vladimir Putin, who claimed the incursion could end in a forced partition of Ukraine.

Poland has established itself as the linchpin of Western involvement in the war, welcoming millions of Ukrainian refugees, funneling Western weapons into the country and becoming one of its staunchest defenders on the European stage.

It is therefore no coincidence that Putin decided to try to stir up animosity between Poland and Ukraine.

In April, Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), accused Poland and the West of plotting to restore Polish control over part of western Ukraine.

Warsaw forcefully denied the claim, calling it disinformation to sow mistrust among Kyiv supporters.

Lviv, for centuries, was the center of memory politics in the region where Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian narratives, especially in the 20th century, contradicted each other.

Poles and Ukrainians have long accused each other of ethnic cleansing of the Ukrainian-Polish border regions and the dispute has long clouded bilateral relations between the two countries.

Poland has always ruled some territories that are now part of Ukraine, most recently between the two world wars.

In 1918, Ukrainian soldiers from Austrian army and Habsburg units occupied public buildings and military depots in Lviv, raised Ukrainian flags and proclaimed the birth of a new Ukrainian state. The city’s Jewish minority remained mostly neutral towards it, while the Polish minority resisted Ukrainian rule.

A fight broke out across the city, which escalated into the Polish-Ukrainian War, and among the fighters were many young volunteers who became known as Lviv Eaglets.

After the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, the eaglets of Lviv were buried in the cemetery of the defenders of Lviv.

Long-standing resentments between Warsaw and Kyiv again erupted into ethnic bloodshed during World War II. The Ukrainian nationalist army of insurgents killed tens of thousands of Poles in the Nazi-occupied regions of Poland, Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.

After the annexation of Eastern Galicia by the Soviet Union during World War II during the Soviet invasion of Poland, and then the expulsion of ethnic Poles from the province, the graves were removed or destroyed in 1971.

Although they have been dismissed over the past two decades, they have remained a thorn in the relations between the two countries.

However, despite sharing a history of oppression and bloodshed, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński told EURACTIV in an interview earlier this year that Russia’s war on Ukraine had given a chance to achieve full reconciliation.

When asked if relations between Poland and Ukraine had changed, Gliński replied: “Yes, it has to be said clearly – the tragedy of the war in Ukraine gave Poles and Ukrainians a chance to fully reconcile”.

“We have been working for years to ensure that the relations between our states and our nations improve more and more, more and more historical disputes and disputes find their solution.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine appears to have turned the tide – and Putin’s attempts to play on historic feelings between the two countries have once again failed.

On Friday May 20, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi unveiled the statutes of the lions guarding the entrance to the necropolis at the Lviv Eaglets Cemetery, a step that in Poland has been hailed as a new chapter in Polish-Ukrainian relations, in a rare unity, both by the government and by the opposition.

Sadovyi wrote in Polish that “there were many pages in the history between Ukrainians and Poles (…) which often stood in the way of mutual agreement, and our common enemy used these pages of history effectively “.

He noted that the lions in the Eaglets Cemetery “used to be controversial and covered up in the past”, but now they are expected to become a symbol of a new openness in Polish-Ukrainian relations.

“This war has shown who is a friend and who is an enemy,” he concluded.


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UKRAINE LAST

  • Ukraine needs grants, not loans. Ukraine’s former economy minister and current adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Tymofiy Mylovanov, in an interview with EURACTIV, welcomed EU aid but called for the use of grants instead of loans, as an over-indebted Ukraine would scare off private investors and make reconstruction more difficult.
  • Zelenskyy rejects the alternative of EU enlargement. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory can end Russia’s war on his country, while arguing for its EU membership.
  • The European Commission proposes a platform for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Along with a EUR 9 billion increase in short-term budget support to the Ukrainian government, the European Commission has proposed to set up a reconstruction platform for Ukraine to meet the massive financing needs for reconstruction from the country.
  • EU “solidarity paths” will not “significantly” help Ukraine to export. Recently announced EU measures to help Ukraine export grain despite Russia’s blockade of its seaports are not enough as they will mainly be based on the country’s outdated railways, a Ukrainian lawmaker has told parliament European.

THE EU IN THE WORLD

WITHDRAWAL OF SANCTIONS | The EU failed to reach a consensus on the new Russia sanctions package this week, and an agreement could still be “in a week or two”, conceded EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell , as Hungary said it would not lift its veto. It seems unlikely that an agreement can be reached before the extraordinary EU summit on May 30-31.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is increasing its pressure on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, threatening him with sanctions if he refuses to resign from his post in Russian companies.

DEFENSE CORNER

NATO WAY | Almost 80 years after the end of the Second World War, Europe’s club of “neutral” or non-aligned countries seems certain to shrink due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The only obstacle to what could otherwise prove to be a quick process is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has said Turkey will not look “positively” at Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids. unless its terrorism concerns are addressed, despite broad support from other allies. including the United States.

EUROPEAN DEFENSE | When EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell concluded the bloc’s first defense policy review more than 18 months ago, he warned that “European defense suffers from fragmentation, duplication and insufficient operational commitment”. Unfortunately, few were listening.

LAST ENLARGEMENT

‘TOP PRIORITY’ | The EU is pressuring Sofia to lift its veto on North Macedonia, starting EU membership talks, saying the lack of a solution is playing into Russia’s hands.

The ‘European Political Community’ completes the process of joining the EU and is not an ‘alternative’, French President Emmanuel Macron has said, following concerns from those in the waiting room of the EU that the idea could be used to exclude countries from the bloc.

Germany has also made European integration of the Western Balkans a top priority for the government because their membership is geopolitically important for the EU, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said this week.

EURASIA SUMMARY

CLASHES BADAKHSHAN | Tajikistan police earlier this week said more than 100 people had been arrested in an “anti-terror operation” after deadly clashes rocked an eastern region the authoritarian regime has long struggled to control. The country is expected to host a major UN conference in early June.


WHAT ELSE WE READ

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT DAYS…

  • World Economic Forum
    | Sun-Thu, 22-26 May 2022 | Davos, Switzerland
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Davos (virtual)
    | Monday, May 23, 2022 | Davos, Switzerland
  • Russian President Putin talks with his Belarusian counterpart Lukashenko
    | Monday, May 23, 2022 | Sochi, Russia
  • Meeting of EU affairs ministers, hearing of Hungary on the rule of law
    | Monday, May 23, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • SEDE Committee of the European Parliament
    | Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | Brussels, Belgium
  • Taiwan Economic Delegation to Lithuania
    | Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Ceremony of the winners of the Belarusian opposition Charlemagne Prize 2022
    | Thursday, May 26, 2022 | Aachen, Germany
  • 25 years of NATO-Russia pact that ended 40 years of cold war
    | Friday, May 27, 2022 |

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[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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