“He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine … This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow.”
“He (Putin) went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don’t we just sort it out together,” Sikorski was quoted as saying in the interview dated Oct. 19.
Before World War Two, Poland’s territory included parts of today’s western Ukraine, including some major cities such as Lwow, known as Lviv in Ukraine.
According to Sikorski, who accompanied Tusk on his trip to Moscow, Tusk did not reply to Putin’s suggestion, because he knew he was being recorded, but Poland never expressed any interest in joining the Russian operation.
“We made it very, very clear to them – we wanted nothing to do with this,” Sikorski said.
This is important, as it shows that the justification that Russia has used to first annex Crimea, and then invade the east of Ukraine in order to set up Novorossiya was something that Putin has been planning for a long time rather than just a response to the Euro-Maidan protests.
It would have been incredibly dangerous for Poland to show the slightest bit of interest in this plan back in 2008, their words would have been used against them in justification for what Russia is doing now.
I think Poland is very happy with the current borders, no matter what the historical legitimacy to the lands to the east are, as those borders guarantee stability. Once Europe starts changing borders for whatever reason, the floodgates of war could be released. As a country that has experienced war on a devastating scale, there is no way Poland would want that.
As an aside, this weekend there is a Polish festival on Queens Wharf in Wellington, run by the Polish Association that was originally set up by NZ's first refugees, the Polish children that were granted temporary and then a permanent home here. Those children were most likely from the areas of Ukraine that Putin was suggesting that Poland take back1.
1. Just to explain my connection, my aunt was one of these Polish children. My dad, her brother, was not a refugee child, he came to NZ as an immigrant in 1950 from Britain, to be reunited with his surviving family here. For more of his story, read Experiences of Motherhood and Conservatism.↩