In fulfillment of my mission to bring to Western readers news items of particular importance in Russian media about which they otherwise would likely be clueless, I direct attention to information released on the Interfax website and carried by Lenta.ru and other major Russian news portals: the head of Russian External Intelligence (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, has spoken out about Poland’s plans to take control of part of the territory of Ukraine.
According to SVR, Poland is coordinating this issue with the United States. The idea is to establish military and political control by Warsaw over the “its historic territories” which today fall within the boundaries of Ukraine. Poland would introduce its troops into the Western regions of the country under cover of a mission to “protect the territory from Russian aggression.” Eventually this would be expected to lead to a partition of Ukraine. The Poles would install a friendly government in the territory they control, ousting the Ukrainian nationalists.
Of course, the Polish ambitions in Western Ukraine are as well founded historically as are Russia’s with respect to Eastern Ukraine, which was once known as New Russia. Western followers of the war will now know for certain where the city of Lviv is located – 50 km or less from the Polish border. It is the city to which American and other foreign diplomats withdrew after Kiev seemed unsafe in the early days of the war. It has been the marshalling point for incoming foreign mercenaries and deliveries of military supplies to Ukraine from the West.
Following the three partitions of Poland in the 18th century and for the entire period of the 19th century, Lviv alias Lvov alias Lemberg, was a Polish city within the Austro-Hungarian Empire known for its splendid Central European architecture and philosophical bent: the city was home to mystical religious sects, both Jewish and Christian.
Indeed, if we want to trace back in history the sources of the present conflict in and over Ukraine, we necessarily find ourselves going back even earlier into the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Great Powers of the day, Ottoman Turkey, Poland, Sweden and Russia were all engaged in warfare over lands that figure in modern day Ukraine. For a good initiation into the culture, or perhaps better to say the barbarism of those days, which prefigure what is now going on in places like Bucha, a good place to start is with the novella Taras Bulba by the Ukrainian-Russian author Nikolai Gogol. I just re-read it in Russian and I assure you the novel is a splendid initial guide to understanding the passions of the present day.
However, none of the foregoing takes into account the military powerhouse that Russia is today. We may take the possibility of a Polish move of its forces into the Western Ukraine as the kind of intervention that Vladimir Putin had in mind when he said yesterday to legislators gathered in St Petersburg that it would provoke a lightning fast counter blow by Russia. Meanwhile, a similar possible intervention by Romania in swallowing up Moldova and threatening to overrun the Russian separatist territory of Transnistria which is sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine, could also spark a powerful military response from Moscow.
The mainspring of history is unwinding spasmodically and destructively.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022