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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Cossacks are known for many things, but not for being Roman Catholics like the Galicians of western Ukraine around Lvov, or like the Poles around Cracow.

Originally, the Cossacks swore off eating horsemeat, veal, hare, and pork. Pork is the principal meat of Lvivska (lead image, right) and Krakowska (left), the traditional sausages of Lvov and Cracow. They differ from one another in the spicing – Lvov with onion, marjoram, coriander and bay leaves; Cracow with nutmeg and sugar. In ingredients, the original Cossack sausages were closer to the Jewish ones.

In the war which is now extending from Europe to the world, taste in sausage shouldn’t be confused with race hatred. On May 22, when Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, declaimed in front of President Vladimir Zelensky at the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev, that “you are – as your national anthem has it – of Cossack stock! You are magnificent!” Duda was making a racial observation with a profound mistake – and not only about sausages.  

The Cossacks of the Ukraine came from the lands between the Dnieper and the Don Rivers – that’s between 700 and 1,400 kilometres from Galicia and a journey of nine to twenty hours by motor, days by horse.  The Cossacks were Slavs and they were Orthodox Christians. By their ethnic origin, language, culture, and religion, they had little in common with the people who lived to the west of the Dnieper; that’s between Kiev, Lvov and the Polish border today. The Cossacks didn’t start eating pork sausage until after they gave up the nomadic life, got off their horses, and settled to farming.

When Duda told the Kiev deputies “I trust the goodness, the friendships made between millions of Poles and Ukrainians will mean we will be good neighbours forever now. This is a great historic opportunity and the great historic break–through”, he was getting closer to the truth of the history. But that is the history of  several hundred years of wars and race hatred between the Galicians and the Poles, and between the Galicians and Poles together against the Russian Slavs. It’s also a story Duda, his political party, and the Polish opposition backed by Mark Brzezinski, the US Ambassador in Warsaw,  recognize as a cause of war inside Poland, as well as outside.

The “historic break-through” which Duda declared in Kiev is only 81 years old, from the time of Duda’s grandfather.*  That was in 1941, when the German Wehrmacht incorporated Galicia into the General Government of southern Poland (Generalne Gubernatorstwo in Polish). Four years later, as the Germans retreated westwards to Berlin, it became the covert strategy of the US Army and then the policy of successive US governments for the extension eastwards of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) alliance; since 1945 that policy has also included regime change in Moscow, and the breakup, first of the Soviet Union, and then of the Russian Federation. That was also the announced strategy of Ambassador Brzezinski’s father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor of the Carter Administration between 1977 and 1981.   

Duda’s speech of May 22 was a Polish call to the Galicians to put aside the race hatred between themselves, and revive the race hatred which the two Catholic peoples, plus the Germans, have shown towards the Russians – also the Jews from whom the Zelensky family comes.

“How can I speak now,” Duda began his address, “when I am almost overcome with emotion”. Duda’s emotion was also calculated for the Polish audience who will vote in the next national election in just twelve months’ time.

Duda’s call to race war against the Russians was also an attempt to secure Poland against its more recent enemy Germany, and neutralize the US government’s attempt to topple the government in Warsaw. For Duda to manage this combination and hold on to power requires the appearance of a much closer Polish alliance with the Kiev regime than the Ukrainian military commanders and the Galician nationalists are contemplating at the moment, as they are forced into retreat westwards, like the Wehrmacht.  Their taste in sausage isn’t Duda’s, or Brzezinski’s, President Zelensky’s or the Cossacks for that matter.

In his racial reference to the Cossacks, Duda was quoting from the last line of the Ukrainian national anthem which was officially adopted in 2003.   That in turn repeats the words of the 1863 poem of Pavlo Chubynsky,   set to music by  Mykhailo Verbytsky.  For more on the ethnic origins and multiple political loyalties of the Cossacks, read this.

Left. President Duda at the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada, May 22; right, President Zelensky embracing Duda at the conclusion of the speech. For the video record at the Ukrainian parliament, click.  

The reaction of the Russian side to Duda’s speech was the reminder that the war over Galicia will start a domino effect and return the region to the front lines of 1939. On May 30 the Kremlin Security Council met without issuing a communiqué;   the next day Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council, announced: “The so-called Western partners of the Kiev regime are also not against taking advantage of the current situation for selfish interests and have special plans for Ukrainian lands… Apparently, Poland is already moving to actions to seize western Ukrainian territories. A vivid confirmation of this was the visit of Polish President Duda to Kiev, as well as his statements that the Polish-Ukrainian border will soon cease to exist…a number of states are already actively working on its dismemberment… the sovereignty of Ukraine does not concern either the head of state [Zelensky], much less the United States and its allies, who are ready to sacrifice the interests of the Ukrainian people to realize their geopolitical goals…Their actions lead to the real collapse of the country.”

President Putin chairs the Security Council meeting on May 30; the regular weekly session on Fridays had been delayed unusually for ten days to a Monday.  

On April 26, following the April 22 session of the Security Council, Patrushev had announced: “The result of the policy of the West and the Kiev regime controlled by it can only be the disintegration of Ukraine into several states.”   

On April 29 Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), added: “According to the intelligence received by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Washington and Warsaw are working on plans to establish Poland’s tight military and political control over its historical possessions in Ukraine.” The reaction in Warsaw came from the spokesman of the Polish intelligence services: “The aim of Russian propaganda is to foster distrust between Ukraine and Poland, to undermine PL-UA cooperation.”   

Following Duda’s trip to Kiev and his speech to parliament, there was an unusual statement from the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko (right). On May 23, Lukashenko told Putin in a telephone call.  “What worries us is that they are ready, the Poles and NATO, to come out, to help take western Ukraine like it was before 1939”.   On June 3, Lukashenko added that Duda’s pitch to Zelensky had antagonized the Galician nationalists in Lvov and the Ukrainian military command in Kiev, arousing their fear that Zelensky would agree to save himself by selling them out. “Western Ukraine is ready to be cut off [but it won’t be easy for] you to chop it off. Already in Ukraine, according to my data, a serious confrontation and conflict begins between Zelensky and the Ukrainian military. The military, like no one else, understands what a conflict with Russia is. Military guys are dying there. They see what they are capable of and how much they can fight. And they won’t be able to continue fighting. You see, Russia has changed tactics.”

The terms Zelensky and Duda had negotiated the week before, according to Lukashenko, were being resisted by the Galicians, and if Zelensky pressed ahead with Warsaw, he risked assassination. “The Ukrainian military will blow anyone’s head off — especially the Nazis, as some call them, who want to have a ‘entirely independent  free Ukraine.’They don’t want,  not only the Russians and  Belarusians, but also the Poles to be there. And they will take off the heads of everyone who wants to dismember Ukraine today.”

On June 9, the SVR issued a fresh statement following announcements in Kiev and Warsaw of new tax arrangements for Ukrainians in Poland.   Zelensky “is surrendering Ukraine’s sovereignty to Poland,” the SVR declared.  

“As stated by the director of the SVR of Russia, S.E. Naryshkin, according to information received by the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, the dreams of the Polish authorities about the return of the “eastern border territories” [Восточных кресов – the Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuanian territories of the 18th century Polish empire]…we see that the Kiev junta has already agreed to the annexation of Ukraine by Poland and voluntarily surrenders state sovereignty to it.”

These statements are understood by sources in Moscow and in the Donbass to be lobbying for decisions yet to be confirmed by Putin that Phase-3 of the military operation will extend to destroying the lines of defence which the US and NATO are supplying between Kiev and Lvov, and to the objectives for the long-term future of Galicia in Phase-4; for Phase-3, read this;  for Phase-4, click.  

That there has been serious conflict between the Galicians, the Ukrainian military and Zelensky isn’t new, nor are the threats to the president from the Galicians. “Zelensky has become more useful to US and EU than Poroshenko or any Galician could ever be,” a well-informed Moscow source said last week. “He has surpassed all expectations. There will be no Galician coup and if there is, it will last a few days and make more of a hero out of Zelensky.  [The US and NATO] would not want to lose the clown now.”

“At the same time it’s increasingly obvious the Ukrainian military understand their defeat is inevitable. So they are trying to preserve as much of what they have left from destruction, especially the new equipment which the US and Europeans are promising to deliver. ”

Donbass sources are saying aloud that they anticipate a putsch against Zelensky if he concedes too much to the Poles. A Moscow source says: “Russia will not allow any part of Ukraine to be ceded to the Poles. So for the time being the Russian approach is to provoke both the Galicians and the Poles – they are aiming at a broken Ukraine, and a broken Europe to follow.”

Polish sources agree that Russian strategy is aimed at dividing Ukraine and Poland. They also  acknowledge there are serious Ukrainian-Polish tensions on both sides of the frontier, and these are being played up in different ways by the competing domestic politicians in Warsaw.

“In terms of strategy, Poland wants a strong Ukraine as an ally against Germany,” comments Stanislas Balcerac, an investigative reporter in Warsaw.  “The Germans want Poland to be weak and without regional allies. So all the political in-fighting will concentrate on this issue before next year’s  elections. The PiS [Law and Justice, Duda’s party and the present government] wants a strong sovereign Poland — ideally with regional allies, such as the Visegrad Group [Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia with Poland]; the Three Seas Initiative and if possible Ukraine. The PO [Civic Platform party] and Nowa Lewica [left coalition] want to dissolve Poland in a federalist European Union led by Germany. It’s unclear what the position is of the Biden Administration. Ambassador Brzezinski is openly supporting the opposition in Poland; he has his own horse in the Polish race – that’s Rafal Trzaskowski, the Mayor of Warsaw [PO]. By contrast, the Germans are still pushing for Donald Tusk to lead the [PO] into the election.”


Key – KO in the table is the PO in the text

Source: tabulation of poll of polls published by Politico click for larger view.

Speaking to the Ukrainian parliament last month, Duda said: “I would like to let you know that your loved ones: spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, those millions of people who had to leave Ukraine, fleeing the tragedy of war, also to Poland – are not refugees in our country. They are our guests. I assure you that they are safe in Polish homes while you are fighting with such bravery to defend your country’s independence.”

But Duda also made clear to the Polish electorate that the Ukrainians are expected to leave Poland. “They will be safe to return to their home country once you have defeated the Russian occupiers, I firmly believe this to be the case.”

“I am standing here before the Verkhovna Rada as the President of Poland to express our thanks, I stress: I stand to express our thanks to you. So far you have been thanking us. You say that Poland has opened its borders for 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees and became home to more than 2 million. It is true. You say that Poland has supplied Ukraine with huge numbers of tanks, armoured vehicles, missile launchers, weapons, munitions worth almost US$2 billion and that Poland keeps telling others that Ukraine must have the support of the free world. That is true.”


Key: Rzeszów: +53%; Gdańsk: +34%; Katowice: +33%; Wrocław: +29%; Kraków: +23%; Lublin: +20%; Poznań: +16%; Szczecin: +15%; Warsaw: +15%; Łódź: +13%. Source: “Urban hospitality -- rapid growth, challenges and opportunities”, Report on Refugees from Ukraine in the largest Polish Cities, Centre for Analysis and Research of the Union of Polish Metropolises, April 2022.  For comment.

According to Balcerac, “the immediate issue is whether Poles want to have a large Ukrainian minority on their soil. Ukrainians are Christian, but of a different church, and their long-term interests may be different from those of Poles. The Poles are afraid of the Fifth Column. And historical tensions may flare up again.”

“In the medium term the [Polish] government policy is to send some of them home. Many are needed by the Polish economy, but the issue of having a large established Ukrainian community in Poland is tricky. In terms of borders, once the Pandora Box is opened and the talk about reuniting Galicia and Poland emerges, then the Germans will move in immediately to reclaim Wroclaw [Breslau] and Gdansk [Danzig], in the name of ‘European integration’.”


Source: https://www.nationalww2museum.org/
 For the history of the Curzon Line, read this.  

[*] There has been recent controversy, as well as disinformation, about Duda’s ethnic origins. His paternal grandfather Aloysius Duda and his father Jan Duda were Galician Catholics from Stary Sasz, a small village between Cracow, the Slovakian border to the south, and the Ukrainian border to the east. The Duda family fought the Germans in World War II; before that, they crossed to the Russian side, and then back again to the Polish side, according to the family history Duda released after attacks by his Polish political opponents. He is not related to  Mikhail Duda, a Galician Pole who,  it has been alleged, collaborated with the Germans during the war. Duda’s wife is from the half-Jewish, half-Catholic family of Julian Kornhauser who comes from Gliwice, west of Galicia.   

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