Ukraine’s neighbor sees future without border
Polish President Andrzej Duda has expressed hope that there will be no border between Poland and Ukraine in the future, calling the two nations “fraternal.”
Speaking in Warsaw on May 3, the day Poland celebrated its Constitution Day, Duda said he envisaged a time in which the two nations would live “together on this land, building and rebuilding our common happiness and common strength that will allow us to resist every danger.”
In his address, the Polish president apparently echoed a remark made by his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, in early March, when he said “effectively we no longer have a border with Poland, with a friendly Poland.” The Ukrainian head of state highlighted how welcoming Warsaw had been to Ukrainian refugees, “not asking them about their nationality, religion or how much money they have.”
This fact was mentioned by the Polish president, too, during his speech on Tuesday. He thanked his fellow countrymen and women for showing their kindness to Ukrainian refugees without being prompted “by any politicians, by any clergy, by anyone.” Duda again cited Volodymyr Zelensky, who recently said that “in view of what the Poles have done, the whole history is not important.”
The Polish president concurred with this assessment, arguing that today’s solidarity between the two nations dwarfed all the conflicts of the past. Duda spoke of the opportunity which today’s crisis offered for rebuilding a “true community in our part of Europe,” which would be “able to defend itself against any attack.”
He went on to suggest that, besides Poland and Ukraine, other nations such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, should also band together. The Polish president added that it was Warsaw’s responsibility to build “neighborly ties and brotherhood between our nations.” He also pledged to help Ukrainians to rebuild their country “when the war is over.”
Speaking about anti-Russia sanctions, Duda acknowledged that the punitive measures against the Kremlin came at a price for those imposing them, causing “economic crashes, crashes in the energy market, in the fuel market,” as well as “inflation that affects our wallets, which makes our lives more difficult.” The Polish president insisted, however, that the international community had no other option but to go ahead with the sanctions regardless to force “Russia to stop its aggression.”
“We have to survive this, we have to pursue a responsible policy, we have to deal with it,” Duda told his compatriots.
He condemned the “brutal aggression of the Russian power on an independent, sovereign state, an independent and sovereign nation.”
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed on Friday that Poland could pose a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Russian official described this as an “obvious fact,” citing a recent statement by the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Poland had earlier dismissed the allegations made by Moscow’s top spy that it planned to take over a portion of Ukrainian territory, calling it a “Russian information operation” aimed against Warsaw and Washington. Meanwhile, the Polish Ministry of Defense announced earlier this month that it was proceeding with large-scale military drills near the Ukrainian border, starting on May 1. Warsaw, however, insists the exercise has nothing to do with the conflict in the neighboring country.
In an interview with Associated Press on Thursday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, too, alleged that politicians in Poland were harboring plans to occupy western Ukraine, “that is, they have the partition of Ukraine in mind.”
Upon its reconstitution in 1919, Poland claimed territories that are now part of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, known as Kresy Wschodnie, or “eastern borderlands.” Cities like Lvov and Stanislavov – known as Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk in present-day Ukraine – ended up in the USSR after WWII as Poland’s borders were shifted westward to the Oder-Neisse line.