As the situation on Europe’s Eastern frontier degenerates predictably, awareness of the millennial violent history between Poles and Ukrainians is indispensable to any understanding. The phrase ‘they share a long history’ does not come close to elucidating what is happening today.
Actually, the phrase most often heard is that Ukrainians and Russians share a long history, and this illustrates the fact that even news analysts haven’t a clue as to what is motivating the protagonists in this drama. Americans who have spent time among Western Europeans notice the vastly greater awareness individuals have of their country’s past than they do. When it comes to Eastern Europe, you can safely double that.
As Ukrainians of East and West duke it out over their country’s future, a tortured debate in the Polish parliament has just culminated with a vote to qualify a World War II massacre of Poles by Ukrainians as ‘ethnic cleansing with genocidal elements.’ The massacre took place in Volyn in the summer of 1943, under the leadership of a Ukrainian fighting force under the Neo-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalist Stepan Bandera who is the hero of the Right Sector now in charge of security under the putsch government in Kiev.
This was not the yearly remembrance, which occurs in July, but was directly related to the current situation in Ukraine, in which the Polish government continues to play a double role that goes back hundreds of years: seeking to once again hold sway over its Eastern lands, backed by a globalizing West eager to exploit them and represented for the cause by the EU.
In its coverage of the vote, RT pointed out that a few years ago the then presidents of the two countries had declared the issue laid to rest, but that subsequently, the Ukrainian government had erected monuments to Bandera and his organization.
And yet, this relatively recent history does not explain Poland’s current role in the Ukrainian drama: it is related to the tug of war between Poles and Ukrainians for sovereignty over the lands that lie between the contemporary Russian and Polish borders that began in the tenth century. This applies also to the Baltics, which Washington says Putin might invade while he’s at it. The huge landmass to the east of the Vistula River has forever been in turmoil among diverse tribes, then principalities, then nations. I’m not going to detail that history here, it’s easily available on Wikipedia, starting with Kievan Rus and following the links.
Doing that will help explain why globalization’s plans for Ukraine are not going to be that easy to implement.