Prospects for Ukraine’s Partition. Warsaw to Waste no Time Rushing to the Party
Dmitry MININ | 01.12.2014 | WORLD

Prospects for Ukraine’s Partition. Warsaw to Waste no Time Rushing to the Party

The story is getting more confirmations. The rumors launched by Radoslaw Sikorski, the speaker of Polish parliament, who accused Moscow of offering Poland parts of Ukraine, were concocted by Poles themselves with a distinct goal in mind – to feel out the reaction on the idea of Ukraine’s partition. The parliamentary opposition wanted the speaker to resign but lost the vote with only 146 MPs out of 434 to support the motion. Sikorski realized that he jumped the gun and his statements were negatively affecting the government plans, so he changed the tactics. Speaking at Harvard University on November 20 he told listeners that Poland was different from Ukraine because it resolutely stepped on the way of reform to become part of transatlantic structures. What he actually meant was that only Poland could lead Ukraine – the whole of it or divided – in the direction the West wanted it to go. Moscow stood in the way. So the Western military alliance was to go back to the mission it was founded for - the deterrence of Russia

Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Shetina joined Sikorski making botched statements. In an interview to Gazeta Wyborcza he compared the relationship of Warsaw and Kiev with the relations between European countries and their colonies in Africa. The Minister made comments on the «Normandy Format» (Germany-France-Russia-Ukraine) gas transit resumption talks in Milan. The US and Poland did not like the fact that they were not invited to take part in the event. Summing up the results of the meeting, Shetina said it was not serious to discuss the future of Ukraine hoping for tangible results, like the ongoing crisis management, if Poland were not a party. As he put it, «Talking about Ukraine without Poland - the same as that discussing the case of Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco without Italy, France and Spain». It reveals the fact that the Polish masters see themselves in the role of «civilized colonizers» dealing with former serfs. The Minister’s statement matches perfectly the plans of Ukraine’s partition, something being seriously mulled in Warsaw as it eyes the prospects for Ukraine’ partition cutting the rest of the country off its western lands. 

Roman Kuzniar, Bronislaw Komorowski's foreign policy adviser, expressed discontent with the fact that Poland was not a party to the talks on Ukraine’ crisis settlement. According to him, Kiev would make a mistake if it believed that it could cope with the situation without Poland. «If Germany and Russia managed to convince Poroshenko that an agreement is possible without Warsaw, then Poroshenko was either a very naïve person or he had no choice and had to cede ground as the partners exerted pressure by making those thinly veiled insinuations," he said. 

They may discuss the matter as long as they want in Warsaw - the main thing is that there is no disagreement on the fact that Poland has special interests in Ukraine. It all boils down to a tough guy game. For instance, former Premier Yaroslav Kaczynski rebukes the government for being irresolute and fickle on Ukraine. As a result Poland has lost its position of the «crusade leader». He believes Poland cedes the ground too easily to diminish its clout in Europe. He said that the fate of Ukraine was being decided without Poland though it was the second largest neighbor after Russia. Kaczynski believed that it would be right if Poland took part in the process. He said the relations with the countries to the east, except Russia, had great importance for Poland. The relations with Moscow were defined by the history and it was a large order to change the relationship for better. But other gains of eastern policy would be of great value. At that Poland has refused its role in the process and the policy has ended up in miserable failure

Poland is very much concerned over the possibility of Russia and Germany reaching a compromise on Ukraine. Polish experts believe that an accommodation was reached during the November 17-18 trip of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Kiev and Moscow. 

They see some signs in confirmation of their guess. For instance, during the German-Polish forum in Berlin held on November 19 Steinmeier met Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Shetina to emphasize the need for a dialogue with Moscow because European security could be guaranteed only with and not against Russia. The next day Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Kijowie at the opening of exhibition in Krzyzowa, southwestern Poland, where 25 years ago their predecessors shared a gesture of friendship to mark historic reconciliation. Speaking on the occasion, Merkel stressed that security, freedom and the rule of law are made even more valuable today, «We are aware that only together with Russia we can assure Europe’s long-term security,» Merkel said. Poland believes that these statements made by German top officials should be perceived as a call for reaching an agreement between Russia and Germany on Ukraine. They think such an unwritten accord may encompass not Ukraine only but the whole of Central and Eastern Europe to be open for Moscow’s influence while remaining in the grey zone of security. Allegedly the informal agreement may boil down to restoring the status quo in Europe that had existed before the Maidan events. At the geopolitical level «the gist of it is making the countries of the region subjugated by Russia – Germany energy alliance». Warsaw feels diminished as it is kept away from the Ukrainian pie, especially in view of its special contribution into the victory of Ukraine’s «national revolution». The Ukrainian students (who acquired the needed skills thanks to training they received at the expense of US grants) were part of Maidan striking force; some even became middle level commanders. According to Polish sources, a number of students went to hone their professional skills in special training camps and at various seminars. As far back as in the days of the Yuschenko’s tenure, the Polish leaders wanted to have the image of leading force protecting the interests of «orange revolution». They wanted to be the main supporters of Maidan, but now it seems to them they are being squeezed away. 

It’s only natural for someone whose neighbor is going through a deep crisis, to be concerned over its own security. Russia and Poland have the longest borders with Ukraine. It would be expedient for these two states to share the responsibility for Ukraine’ crisis management. But Warsaw has been blind as a result of the spreading myth about the Russian threat that has become absurd, its own revanchist claims to Ukrainian lands and the statements by Sikorski, Shetina and others of that ilk. As a consequence, Warsaw made itself pushed to the outskirts of the process unfolding around Ukraine. 

Off and on the voices calling for good sense are heard in Poland. Some people understand that trying to get around Russia does not serve the Poland’s regional interests. For instance, Obserwator Polityczny admits that the Ukraine’s commitments and interests are closely intertwined with Russia. It says, «Moreover, Ukrainians and Russians are one people, by and large this fact is indisputable. We lose a lot by supporting the new rulers in Kiev - good old tycoons. Thus, the West’s policy brings damage to Ukraine. Some time will have passed before this truth, like any other truth, becomes evident. Ukrainians begin to realize it. On a number of occasions they have heckled their leaders recently. Should we make our relations with the Russian Federation suffer as we support the right of Ukraine to get plunged into the whirlpool of power change game played by tycoons? Have Russians done anything bad to us? Have Ukrainians done anything good to us? Why are we pushed around by being told to hate Russians and to have sympathy, if not more, for Ukrainians?» It’s a pity such reasonable judgment is rather an exclusion from the rule in the contemporary Poland. 

Moscow has no blinders on Warsaw and is ready for full-fledged cooperation. For example, Gasprom offered to build Ymal-Europe-2 gas pipeline running through Poland. Gazprom Transgaz Belarus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gazprom, is considering plans of constructing a second leg of the Yamal-Europe pipeline supplying Russian gas to European consumers, the company’s CEO Vladimir Mayorov said on November 19.

«Now the construction of the second leg of Yamal-Europe is being discussed», Mayorov said in an interview with the Gazprom magazine. «It is no secret that the Yamal-Europe trunk pipeline currently accounts for around 70% of transit through the territory of Belarus».

Last year, the pipeline carried some 34.7 billion cubic meters of gas. «At the moment, the Yamal-Europe is working at its maximum technical capacity level,» Mayorov said. It’s clear that Poland would gain if the project goes through. There is each and every reason to believe that Berlin would support it. Not everything is rosy here. New European Council President Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister of Poland, believes the EU Energy Charter aimed at independence of the European Union from Russian gas supplies is to be complied with. 

Poland said the project was politically motivated as the Northern Stream was being constructed. It wanted to get back to the more profitable Yamal 2. Now it has an opportunity to prove that it sticks to pragmatic approach to economy keeping away the influence of outside political factors. Only the projects which are profitable in practice, unlike the decision motivated by irrational enmity, can guarantee security and peace for Central and Eastern Europe.

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