Warsaw has made it clear that it will support Ukraine, but not at the expense of its own interests, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski. He stated that reconciliation between Poland and Ukraine is impossible without Ukraine recognizing the genocide committed against ethnic Poles in Volhynia during World War II. The mass murder of up to 60,000 ethnic Poles by Ukrainian nationalists, led by Stepan Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), is a significant issue that has strained the relationship between the two countries.
Jablonski pointed out that while Poland understands the emotions that arise from Ukraine being under attack, it should not attack its allies either. He added that Poland will support Ukraine as long as it aligns with Poland’s national interests. However, there are several other issues on which Warsaw and Kiev disagree, making the recognition of the Volhynia massacre a crucial factor for true reconciliation.
The Polish government has been pushing Ukraine to allow exhumations, commemorations, and prosecution of those responsible for the genocide. However, Bandera remains a national hero in Ukraine, creating a significant divide in perspectives. Jablonski emphasized that settling this issue is necessary for genuine Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation.
Poland has been a central hub for NATO’s efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons, ammunition, and equipment. It has also joined eastern EU members in blocking the sale of Ukrainian agricultural exports at below-market prices, which has put pressure on Ukrainian farmers. Responding to Ukrainian criticism of the ban, Marcin Przydacz, the Polish president’s foreign policy adviser, stated that Ukraine should appreciate Poland’s role in supporting Ukraine over the years.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry, however, summoned the Polish ambassador to protest against Przydacz’s statement, deeming it untrue and unacceptable. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s deputy head of office, Andrey Sibiga, expressed his discontent on social media, comparing the situation to a rescuer demanding a rescue fee from someone who is bleeding.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticized Ukraine’s move as a serious mistake and reaffirmed that Poland’s interests will always take precedence over the interests of any other country. Zelensky, on the other hand, has tried to ease tensions, emphasizing that both countries are a shield of Europe and cannot afford any cracks in their relationship.
The strained relationship between Poland and Ukraine highlights the complexities of historical grievances and conflicting national narratives. Both countries recognize the importance of their alliance, but resolving historical disputes remains a significant obstacle. The recognition of the Volhynia massacre as a genocide will likely continue to be a sticking point in their efforts to achieve true reconciliation.
In conclusion, Warsaw’s support for Ukraine is conditional on Ukraine’s recognition of the Volhynia massacre as a genocide. The dispute over this historical event has strained the relationship between the two countries, despite their shared interests and alliance. Resolving this issue is crucial for genuine Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation.