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Will Zelensky fulfill Warsaw’s dream of Greater Poland and divide Ukraine?

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The western Ukrainians want to join the EU and NATO. Both are currently impossible for decades. But “reunification” of Poland with the now Ukrainian former Polish territories would be a shortcut.

It is widely known that Polish nationalists, in particular, dream of a “Greater Poland” that includes more German territories (including Berlin) and the historically Polish territories in Ukraine.

An ideology shared by many representatives of the ruling PiS in Warsaw. With the Ukraine conflict, the dream of territorial expansion, at least with regard to the former Polish eastern territories, could be within reach.

Thomas Röper of the “Anti-Spiegel” newspaper has drawn attention to current developments in this regard in a recent report. Among other things, he refers to the statement of the Polish president at the beginning of May, according to which “there will no longer be a border between our countries, Poland and Ukraine.”

Both peoples would “live together on this land.” As a result, on May 23, Zelensky announced to the Ukrainian parliament (after his Polish counterpart gave a speech there) that he would immediately introduce a bill granting special rights to Polish citizens in Ukraine and de facto abolishing the state border between the two countries.

To implement this step, the Ukrainian leadership would have to recognize the loss of the south and east of the country—quasi partition. The eastern and southern parts of Ukraine would then become a Russian client state (unless these areas simply join the Russian Federation), while the regions from Lviv to Kiev would simply join Poland.

For the pro-Western forces in western Ukraine, this would probably be the easiest and fastest way to become part of the EU and NATO. After all, as even CNN noted in 2014, Ukraine is a divided country.

Before the Maidan coup, the southern and eastern parts consistently voted for pro-Russian presidents and parties, while the northern and western parts voted for pro-Western ones. Such a division would end domestic tensions and arguably allow for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The problem with this: who will pay for it? The Ukrainian infrastructure is dilapidated and would first have to be brought up to a level that at least meets minimum European standards with tens of billions of euros in subsidies.

The bottom line is that the remaining EU states would have to pay for this with higher EU contributions. But in the end, this would probably be a win-win situation for the Poles (territorial increase), the western Ukrainians (EU and NATO membership in one fell swoop), the eastern Ukrainians (peace at last), and Russia (protection for the Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine).

Pragmatists might also say that in the end, it is probably better for Europeans to pay more via infrastructure aid than via high electricity, natural gas, fuel, and food prices driven by Western sanctions against Russia.


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