The Russian media has reverted to the narrative regarding Poland’s intention to occupy part of Ukraine, this time focusing on the statements of president Andrzej Duda, which it took out of context and interpreted in a different key.
NEWS: “The president of Ukraine’s neighboring country, Andrzej Duda, gave a fiery speech, also referring to Ukraine, which he described as “a brotherly state”.
Then the president talked about the future, when “there will no longer be borders” separating Poland and Ukraine. He justified this situation through the need to have a common territory that “will allow the two countries to ward off any dangers or possible acts of provocation.”
The threats posed by global terrorism, the flow of refugees from Africa and the Near East or the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped reality in Europe’s borderlands. Therefore, Duda most definitely argued during his speech that he will manage to “engulf” Ukrainian territory, arguing this was purely out of concern for the Ukrainian people.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, previously said that, in fact, there is no longer a Ukrainian-Polish border.
NARRATIVES: 1. The president of Poland admitted Warsaw will annex Ukrainian territories. 2. (implied) Ukraine is an artificial state, therefore it will not be able to preserve its territorial integrity.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The propaganda narrative disseminated by Kremlin-linked media is based on two statements by the presidents of Poland and Ukraine taken out of context, amalgamated and reinterpreted contentiously in order to manipulate public opinion.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke about the disappearance of borders between the two states in the context of the large wave of refugees who have arrived on the territory of Poland. He thanked the Poles for their support: “On the first day of the war it became clear […] that there are no more borders between us, between our brotherly nations. No physical border, and no personal one”, the Ukrainian president said in March in an address to the Polish Parliament.
Two months later, Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, quoted Zelensky, saying that the Kyiv leader was a “prophet” when he predicted “there won’t be a border any more, that we will live together on this earth, rebuilding it and achieving happiness for both nations”. The president of Poland referred to the processes of European integration and the need to support Ukraine in the war triggered by Russia.
In this context, the vice-president of the Russian Federation’s Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, wrote on his Telegram account that “Poland’s president Andrzej Duda officially recognized territorial claims to Ukraine”. The Russian politician’s post reinforced the propaganda narrative spread on the territory of ex-Soviet republics.
The Russian media doesn’t recall the fact that Duda supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the same speech. He said: “We will help refugees so that, when the war is over, they can return to their homes, and we will help them rebuild Ukraine: free, sovereign and independent”.
Therefore, both Zelensky as well as Duda were referring to the situation of Ukrainian refugees and about “historical” and “personal” borders, a reference to the need to overcome past dissensions. At the same time, Zelensky also brought up the issue of European integration. In case of EU accession, Ukraine would benefit from free movement and access to the single market. This would be tantamount to lifting border controls between the two states, as is the case in other member states. Thus, Duda didn’t speak about territorial claims to Ukraine, nor did Zelensky refer to this topic.
The aforementioned narrative is a carryover of propaganda messages disseminated at society level by the head of Russian foreign intelligence, Sergey Naryshkin, who said he “holds information about Warsaw’s and Washington’s plans to take military and political control over Polish historical provinces in Ukraine”. Veridica has already debunked this false narrative, which is designed to convince the public at home that the Kremlin’s “special operation” is very necessary and that several states will get involved in partitioning Ukraine in the future.
Poland has been the most vocal and active of all of Ukraine’s neighbors in terms of combating Russian aggression and supporting Kyiv’s defensive efforts, which turned it into a favorite target of Russian propaganda.
As regards the artificial nature of Ukraine, the narratives are invalidated by the reality on the ground – the entire population of Ukraine, irrespective of ethnicity or the area of residence, have opposed the Russian invasion. Countless Ukrainians are already involved in the war effort, fighting or getting involved in other activities to support the armed forces or refugees.