Sunday, March 23, 2014

A "Polish fate" for Ukraine?

(Update, 3/24: Britské listy has corrected itself on the post below that was the prompt for this post of mine. Zhirinovsky has not been the vice-chair of the Duma since 2011, and he wrote in the capacity of a regular member of the Duma, not in any way on behalf of the body as a whole, as was implied in the original Britské listy and in the Polish TV report from which Britské listy took its cue. The full correction is below.)

The website Britské listy has an arresting piece, The Russian State Duma plans a Polish fate for Ukraine.

They cite this report from Polish TV (which also produced the map below, titled “Map showing Zhirinovsky’s proposal,” Zhirinovsky being the vice-chair a member [see update above] of the Russian Duma (the legislature)).
Russia would get all of southeast Ukraine, including the entire Black Sea coast.

Hungary would get Transcarpathian Ukraine (sometimes called “Ruthenia”, what was the “tail” of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1938). Ironically, this is one of the pieces of interwar Czechoslovakia that Hitler allowed Hungary to annex in the wake of the Munich accord of 1938.

Rumania would pick up some of the southern areas of western Ukraine.

Poland would get substantial areas of western Ukraine. Ironically, these are areas that were part of interwar Poland and which Hitler agreed to let Stalin have under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Agression Pact of 1939.
The partition of 1939, from
The further irony is in the very title of the piece. The “Polish solution” refers to the three partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, ending up with Poland disappearing from the map entirely.

The partitions of the 18th century,
And this “Polish solution” is now being proposed by the vice-chair of the Russian Duma, in a letter to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to do to Ukraine what was long ago done to Poland.

It doesn’t seem like the Poles are interested in taking the bait. According to the Britské listy article, “The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterizes the offer from the Russian side as ‘quaint’ and plans to respond politely without addressing the contents of the note.” It seems to me that Poland wants to stay in good standing with its fellow members of the EU, and cooperating with Russia in the dismemberment of a sovereign state would probably be a poor way to do that.

The Czech site adds:
When the Russian side makes continual assurances that it has no plans for further territorial demands beyond the borders of Crimea, it’s good to be aware that it’s often the case that the pseudo-opposition figure Zhirinovsky is merely a little quicker and more radical to suggest measures that the Kremlin later brings to fruition in more acceptable garb.
What’s more, former Putin advisor Andrei Ilarionov is convinced that the annexation of Crimea was just the first step containing the creation of the legal framework for the conquest of further Ukrainian territory.
This is looking ugly.

Correction from March 25th (March 24th US Central Time when I saw it):

Zhirinovsky isn't the "vice-chair of the Russian Duma," IDnes writes nonsense

[IDnes is a Czech news service.]

"The vice-chair of the Russian Duma is writing us that we should seize a part of Ukraine, claim the Poles"--that was the headline that IDnes gave its article. The trouble is that Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who was clearly the author of some sort of fishy letter addressed to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hasn't been vice-chair of the Russian Duma since 2011. He's a regular representative and a member of the defense committee, and the leader of the LDPR faction in the Duma. So it's possible that Rep. Zhirinovsky all on his own wrote something to someone, but not by the authority of nor as a functionary of the Duma, as Pavel Barák points out.

It would be useful if reporters, before mechanically taking something from other sources, would confirm it independently. Since they don't do that, the same uncorrected mistakes keep spreading around the world.

It's especially important to take a cautious stance toward second-hand information which comes these days from Russian, Ukrainian, Baltic, Polish, and in the end also Czech sources, since the media in those countries has been afflicted by an unsettling wave of nationalistic chauvinism and hatred and they can't be regarded as serious.

The media in all the above-mentioned countries are irresponsibly fanning the crisis in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, we at Britské listy originally treated uncritically the mistaken information of Polish Television, which incorrectly labeled Zhirinovsky as the vice-chair of the Duma and interpreted his private letter as an official communication of the Russian parliament, and we apologize for that. The mistake has been corrected.

Of course on the IDnes site it hasn't been.

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