UKRAINE – BETWEEN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
A geopolitical key for restoring the Russian empire is Ukraine. It used to be a part of the West when it was one of the three parts of the First Polish Republic
Before the authority in Kiev was taken over by the present pro-Russian government of the president Wiktor Janukowycz, Ukraine declared its intention to enter the EU and NATO. The boycott of Ukraine as a co-host of the European championship in football tells us to think again about its place on the geopolitical map of our continent.
Why the boycott of Euro 2012
The leading politicians of the EU countries, including the former Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, voted for the boycott of the present authorities of Ukraine, which violate human rights, breach democratic standards and President Wiktor Janukowycz changed the political direction of Kiev and is again steering towards Moscow. The problem of the boycott of Euro 2012 goes beyond the grass of the Ukrainian stadiums and it concerns football the least. If Poland is in the Middle Europe, Ukraine is in the Easter Europe and Euro-Asia is further, as Wladimir Putin has defined Russian Federation recently in his pronouncement in Kremlin, when just near the Caesar’s throne he has taken over the presidential authority for the third time. Putin is consciously and deliberately restoring the Russian empire, although by the means in a form adjusted to the contemporary conditions and sensitivity and the less expensive one. Putin announced that Russia would take up its attempts for the sake of building the Euro-Asiatic Union which would include the republics of the Soviet Union: Belarus and what is most important, Ukraine. The most dangerous, especially for Poland, is the fact that Russia is firmly keeping to its claim for the privileged position in the Eastern Europe. Putin, similarly as his all predecessors in Kremlin for 350 years, is interested in antagonizing Poles and the Ukrainians in order to reign more efficiently over the first and the other ones. It was Russia which won the biggest advantages from the civil war in the Polish Republic which was the Uprising of Chmielowski in 1648. Later, as Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote in the ending of ‘Fire and sword’ in a shocking way: ‘The Polish Republic became deserted, Ukraine became deserted. Wolves were roaring on the ruins of former towns and the blooming countries long time ago were like a big tomb. Hatred has grown into hearts and contaminated closely-related blood’.
Troubles with sovereignty
The essence of the present political crisis in Ukraine has its very deep roots. The very name of the country defines its territorial place: ‘Near country, on the border. It has been so for four centuries: Ukraine is looking for its place on the geopolitical map between Russia and the West, between Russia and Poland, between Moscow and Europe. What is more, the very Ukraine was territorially divided into the Eastern and Western, the left-coastal and right-coastal along the Dniepr line and for a few years into the blue and the orange one. This division was started in 1654 when the Moscow tsar arbitrarily included Ukraine into Russia. The Western part was left for the Polish Republic till 1772 in order to make it belong to Austria later till 1918. After the Second World War – in 1945 Stalin subordinated the whole Ukrainian territory to Kremlin and included it into the Soviet Union. When, in 1991 the Ukrainians were proclaiming their independence and detaching from Moscow, the polish government (of the Prime Minister Jan Olszewski) was then first in the world to recognise the new country in the international arena. Others were still hesitating, being afraid of anger and discontent of Moscow. It was not accidental that it was just Poland and just this government which unanimously and unconditionally acknowledged Ukraine as independent and sovereign country.
In the dilemma
Our Eastern neighbour has over 50 millions of inhabitants but over a half of the Ukrainians do not know their mother tongue because of the intensive russification for the last 300 years! The whole eastern and southern Ukraine (Charkow, Donbas, Odessa) speak only Russian. The Ukrainian language, literature and the Ukrainian culture remained in Wołyń, Podole, Pokucie and the Eastern Małopolska. It should show the contemporary Ukrainians on who they should rely in XXI century when building the sovereign and independent country from the basis. Once, the great Polish statesman has proposed them this solution. If in 1920 they had supported the Prometheus’ plan of Józef Pilsudski, history would have surely gone in a different direction. But the Ukrainians preferred communist Russia and later there were millions of victims to famine and millions of the Ukrainians exiled further than the polar circle to Siberia. Today, in XXI century the situation is different. The Ukrainians can still be shifting between the integration with the EU structures and Russia but the area of free action will finish for them quickly. However, at present the Ukrainian authorities are aware of it. They are afraid that finally Russia will be aiming at making Ukraine dependent from it. However, it was a choice of Kiev. The Ukrainians made mistakes by distancing themselves towards the EU because the latter one does not care about its energetic safety. It might be true to much extent but what have the Ukrainians themselves done in this issue?
Poland and Poles, all other governments and presidents of the Third Polish Republic were supporting the aim at independence of the Ukrainians. But Kiev did not need and does not need Warsaw as a barrister at all or mediator in the European Union or NATO. The Ukrainians, excluding Warsaw, are directly negotiating with Berlin, Paris, Brussels and even Washington. What is more, in Ukraine there was not and there is still no agreement on the basic direction which the country should take; with the European Union which does not really want Ukraine or with Russia?
Poland - so far away, but, after all, so near
The orange revolution became a symbol of breaking the dependence of Kiev from Moscow. ‘The orange’ received an unconditional support of all Polish political options from Poland, in Polish streets it was chanted during meetings: ‘Kiev – Warsaw is a common matter!’ However, it turned out quickly that it was naivety. Ukraine did not definitely want to break its relations with Russia. In Ukraine Polish monuments are still being destroyed, as well as Polish graveyards, Polish souvenirs and genocide criminals from Ukrainian Insurgent Army are still worshipped. Even referring to the organized Euro 2012 together, there were undertaken different frauds and anti-Polish actions, and so trivial, like an invitation of Russian bands, and blocking the Polish ones. There are a lot of Polish good gestures but there are hardly the Ukrainian ones. However, it is significant that the recent survey in Ukraine showed that Poland is perceived there as a country most friendly towards Ukraine. The very name of this country means in the Ukrainian, Polish and Russian languages the same – ‘near country’, that is, on the border. A great Polish poet wrote about it in the most beautiful way, which is admitted by the Ukrainians themselves; because the verses of Juliusz Słowacki emotionally touch everybody with their beauty till today:
‘God, who did not feel you in Ukraine,
Blue fields where a soul is so sad.
(...)Who has never seen you, great God!
On the great plains, in the lifeless sun,
When the feet of crosses on graves
Seem to be in blood and flame
And somewhere far away the sea thunders’.
What kind of neighbourhood is there for Poland
Bounds, historical Eastern border of Poland are still important for safety of the Third Polish Republic. If Ukraine moves towards the West, Belarus will surely follow behind it. Poland, by supporting this process, would detach Russia from Europe and would toughen in its geo-strategic place. Russia would be where geographically and historically belongs to.
Besides it all, we must remember about the basic matter: the Russian policy is constant and Moscow will never resign from making Ukraine its vassal as well as making vassals of Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and even Poland. The Eastern partnership, according to hurray-optimistic opinions, was supposed to be a tool of the EU influence in a region, and in the case of Warsaw – a return of post-Jagiellonian conceptions of bringing Eastern Europe closer to Poland. not deciding finally whether these ambitions may be fulfilled and how the Eastern Partnership is functioning, it should be stated clearly – this project should not be rejected. In contrary, it requires development, modernization and adjusting the range of expectations for the offer which has been submitted to Ukraine by the EU. It also seems that the definition whether our neighbour is or is not a ‘strategic partner’ is not as good as a simple scale of neighbourhood which was used by Józef Pilsudski, among the others, towards Ukraine: ‘a good neighbour, neighbour, a bad neighbour, an enemy, eternal enemy’.