Photo: Andrzej Duda and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
After the start of a full-scale war of Russia against Ukraine, it was Poland that showed leadership in supporting Ukraine. The state sheltered about half of the Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes, and this is more than 3 million people. Polish Rzeszow has become the main hub for transferring military aid to Ukraine. The leadership of Poland did not hesitate to refuse from Russian gas, as well as to recognize the actions of Russian soldiers as a genocide. In general, the neighbouring country provided about $4 billion in aid to Ukraine, about half of this amount in a form of munition, military and other types of equipment. This assistance includes heavy weaponry, which Ukraine needs so much to conduct counteroffensive operations. According to the Polish Radio, the country has transferred more than 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. There were about 400 T-72 tanks in Poland, some of which were modernized in 2019. In the first place, Poland transfers to the Ukrainian army tanks that have not undergone modernization. Ukrainian tankers can use non-modernized equipment without additional preliminary training. This is important in conditions when heavy equipment is needed here and now.
The Poles understand the needs of Ukrainians and the danger to Ukrainian and Polish statehood from the Russian Federation. While Germany hesitates to provide military assistance to Ukraine, delaying the delivery of Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, Poland has taken leading position in relation to Ukraine, despite disputes over historical issues between states that hindered the development of bilateral relations in the past. Now Poland has supported the idea of granting Ukraine the status of an EU candidate, while President Andrzej Duda, after meeting with the President of Slovakia, assured that both leaders will persuade other European countries to grant Ukraine the EU candidate status. Thus, Poland supported the European vector and the civilizational choice of Ukrainians.
On May 22, 2022, in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Presidents of Poland and Ukraine, Andrzej Duda and Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered speeches that became an intermediate result of close cooperation between the two countries and mark a new stage in Ukrainian-Polish relations. Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed the connection between Ukrainian and Polish cultures, the connection between the peoples of both countries: Today, half a word is enough for Polish President Andrzej and I to understand each other. Our parliaments, our governments and our nations in general understand each other as never before. And it doesn't matter whether it is Cyrillic or Latin, it doesn't matter how we write the words "freedom" and "independence". It is important that Ukrainians and Poles say these things in the same way. And are equally ready to defend them. Ukraine is already doing this. On the very frontline. It defends not just itself but the whole of Europe. Poles know this, appreciate, respect and help Ukraine - not out of courtesy, but as brothers and allies who remember Lech Kaczy?ski's words about who could be next. This does not mean fear. This means readiness to face the enemy and repel him.”
A common cultural, civilizational affiliation ran like a red thread throughout the speeches of both presidents, as one of the elements that now unite the Ukrainian and Polish peoples. "May the purification of historical memories lead everyone to work for the triumph of what unites over what divides, in order to build together a future of mutual respect, fraternal cooperation and true solidarity.," Andrzej Duda said after Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech. The presidents said outright that they would not allow the enemies to pit the two peoples against each other using painful topics from the past. In general, the speeches of the Presidents looked like the Ukrainian and Polish sides wrote them together. 2022 is a historic moment when the two states officially agreed to put previous differences aside.
The Ukrainian-Polish partnership is an example of how actions follow declarations. This time, ambitious measures were announced, which should be implemented in the near future and contribute to the actual integration of Ukraine into the common European space. Firstly, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the introduction of a common border and customs control and, subsequently, the only conditional border when Ukraine becomes a member of the EU. Such a step will reduce the time of verification, optimize resources, because it requires less equipment and premises, and will also act as a tool to combat corruption, smuggling and illegal migration, because where there are servicemen of two countries, it is much more difficult to offer a bribe. Currently, 4 such checkpoints are already operating between Poland and Ukraine, 2 of which are full-fledged (for entry and exit). According to Kristina Bondareva, a “European Pravda” journalist, and Irina Sushko, executive director of the NGO "Europe without Barriers": “If the overall control works, then this indicates that Ukraine has gained more trust, and has become a little closer to the Schengen area, a cornerstone of which is trust.”
Secondly, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the introduction of a special status for Polish citizens in Ukraine, in response to a similar bill passed in Poland regarding Ukrainians. Details of the Ukrainian bill have not yet been published. The Polish initiative provides for the legalization of Ukrainians in Poland for a period of 18 months, gives the right to official employment, education and free medical care.
In Russia, such rapprochement between Ukraine and Poland has caused great concern. Russian militant Igor Girkin, who back in 2014 was the commander of a group of Russians who captured the first Ukrainian city in the Donetsk region, Slovyansk, said this move provided a legal basis for "Poland's legal invasion of Ukraine." In general, the fake about Poland's intentions to annex the western part of Ukraine after Duda's visit to Kyiv is one of the most widespread in the Russian information space.
Russian propagandists, however, are right that a legal basis is currently being created for the association of the two states. This process did not begin in May this year, but in July 2020, when the Lublin Triangle was formed. Ukraine's rapprochement with Poland brings the country closer to joining European structures. Andrzej Duda also stated his desire to include Ukraine in the Intermarium initiative. Ukrainian diplomacy has long been trying to join the Intermarium project. At the current stage, this would contribute to the accelerated recovery of post-war Ukraine and accession to the CEE community.
The best alliance is one in which the interests of the two states coincide. Relations between Ukraine and Poland are an example of such an alliance. The visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda marks a new page in relations between the two countries. In addition to symbolic steps, such as recognizing the need to move forward despite historical issues, recognizing the contribution of Polish cities, in particular, awarding Rzeszów the title of "Rescuer City", practical initiatives were announced to bring Ukraine closer to European structures. These include initiatives to introduce joint border and customs controls, promote Ukraine’s accession to the EU, NATO and the “Intermarium”, Poland’s promise to take part in Ukraine’s reconstruction, and the intention to secure special status for citizens of both countries. Referring to the words of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Andrzej Duda said: "Together we are more than 80 million people strong”. The Union of Ukraine and Poland strengthens Ukraine, Poland and Eastern Europe as a whole. Poland has become the main lobbyist in the European Union and, according to the Polish president, he will not rest until Ukraine becomes a full member.
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3. Польща передала Україні понад 200 танків Т-72 – ЗМІ, 29.04.2022,
4. Виступ Президента України Володимира Зеленського під час спільної з Президентом Польщі Анджеєм Дудою участі у пленарному засіданні Верховної Ради, 22.05.2022,
5. Наближення до Шенгену: що дасть Україні спільний з Польщею контроль за кордоном, 27.05.2022,