You have likely encountered the narrative about Poland’s plans to incorporate Ukraine’s western regions into its territory. Such fake news has a long history, as russia has been actively spreading it since 2002. Needless to say, it is just another falsehood. In our article, you can find out why and how russia created this fake.
Reports about the alleged annexation of Ukrainian territories date back to 2002. That is when russia began spreading the narrative about Ukraine’s partitioning into separate regions. The peak of its publicity was timed to the 2004 Presidential Elections. Yanukovych’s team was spreading the fake, insisting that Yushchenko’s election would bring about Ukraine’s dissolution into three parts. Those people even made a map labelling the westernmost regions as “first-grade Ukrainians”. On the other hand, the eastern and southern regions and Crimea were shown as “third-grade Ukrainians”.
That fake persisted throughout the following years until 2014, as russian propagandists never ceased spreading it. In 2014, the narrative gained newfound intensity in the wake of the occupation of Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky addressed the governments of Poland, Hungary, and Romania with written proposals to become russia’s partners in partitioning Ukraine. At the time, European countries, including Poland, dismissed the proposals as nonsense. But the story of this narrative did not end there.
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, it has manifested in a different way. “Poland is a conqueror of Ukrainian territories” is a narrative that displays russia’s searches for justification. The aggressor seeks to show that the invasion and conquest of territories is a legal practice, arguing that other countries, such as Poland, do the same.
That search brings about countless fakes accusing Poland of being an occupier and aggressor. There are three main varieties to the “Polish takeover of Ukraine’s western regions” based on economic, political, or military means.
Among the “economic” variations, the most popular one was the fake photo showing stores from Ukraine’s western regions displaying price tags in hryvnia and polish złoty. That photo was allegedly spread by Ukrainians who feared Poland’s looming arrival. Naturally, it was but a fake.
Moreover, the RT and Sputnik russian propaganda anchors insinuated that the plan to build a pipeline for transporting sunflower oil to Gdansk was deception, a ploy towards the occupation of our territories.
Disinformation appeared especially frequently in connection with the prospect of the single conditional border between Ukraine and Poland discussed by the respective Presidents. Following the talks, russia lied that there the border between the two countries was no more and that “the occupation had begun.”
They also spread fake photos with pseudo-ballots, allegedly showing the people of the Lviv region voting for secession to Poland. Obviously, the idea of any such vote was preposterous.
Telegram channels were actively involved in spreading this variety. “Spletnicca” (gossip girl) and “ZeRada” propaganda channels distributed photos of billboards with Jarosław Mika, a Polish general, and his quote “time to remember history”. Evidently, to the russian imagination, it looked like a call to attack Ukraine.
Predictably, they implicated NATO as well. One of the versions of this fake claimed that Washington permitted Poland to send its troops into Ukraine on condition of “repayment”, a transfer of Ukraine’s western regions to Poland.
The facts are that Poland has maintained friendly relations with Ukraine since our first Independence Day in 1991. Poland was the first country in the world to recognize our independence and has supported our pro-European course ever since. The Polish government also made an official statement in March, declaring that the reports about Poland’s plans to annex Ukraine’s western regions emerged from russian propaganda. There is no doubt that russia has been spreading disinformation.
Such actions are an attempt to upset relations between the countries. That is why russia spreads fakes in Ukraine, warning us of a “cost” for humanitarian aid. Or vice versa, trying to convince the Poles that there is no point in aiding Ukrainians because they are “ungrateful”.
Russia continues waging its propaganda war. In the wake of the recent crash of a missile in the Polish borderland, russia started spreading the narratives claiming that Ukraine posed a threat to Poland.
Among the messages, there are also those warning about possible nuclear strikes, energy catastrophes, and crises in Poland as a consequence of aiding Ukraine. However, Stanisław Żaryn, the Polish Minister Coordinator of Special Services, reaffirms that aid to Ukraine serves the security interests of the West.
Therefore, such russian fake stories are meaningless. Those attempts to disrupt the relations between Poland and Ukraine only serve to prove their strength.