Poland's former Foreign Minister Sikorski,
left, Prime Minister Tusk, and
Russian President Putin. It was Sikorski's
first visit to Moscow with Tusk,
and according to him, Putin wanted Poland,
Russia to partition Ukraine.
Did Putin Propose
Poland-Russia Partition of Ukraine? Hardly Likely (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
the whole of Ukraine then - and he wants it now. Six years ago he could count
on obtaining it without paying a dime. Russia was then at the peak of its 'soft
power' and was probably at its historical sexiest. Oil prices rose
day after day, petrodollars were flowing into the banks along the Moscow River,
a dollar was worth 24 rubles and dropping in comparable value, and in the eyes
of Russians, living standards were rising. Ö Why invite someone to feast on a
neighbor's body if one can have it all to oneself?"
"This is a klukva (a "cranberry",† i.e.: complete nonsense) was the assessment
of Russian President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov
to Politico's revelations - according to which in
February 2008, Vladimir Putin proposed to [Polish] Prime Minister Donald Tusk that
the two countries should partition Ukraine between themselves.
[Editor's Note: Politico quotes Sikorski as saying in part:
"[Putin] gave his extraordinary speech saying Ukraine was an artificial country and the greater part of these lands historically belonged to Russia. ... We learned Russia ran calculations on what provinces would be profitable to grab. ... By that time they were already doing calculations about how to seize Crimea as a way of blackmailing Viktor Yanukovych. ... I know from my conversations and meeting with Yanukovych that he wanted to get the [European Union-Ukraine] Association Agreement. But in November 2013 something happened, something snapped. Based on our conversations, my sense is that it was something Putin told him in Sochi. I think that Putin had kompromat [blackmail material] on Yanukovych: we now know there was a weekly, biweekly truck taking out the cash [stolen from the Ukrainian budget] in a cash transfer. And I think he told him: 'Donít sign the [E.U.] Association Agreement; otherwise weíll seize Crimea.' Thatís why he cracked. ... He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine. ... Putin wants Poland to commit troops to Ukraine. These were the signals they sent us. Ö We have known how they think for years. This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow. He went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why donít we just sort it out together. Luckily Tusk didnít answer. He knew he was being recorded." Sikorski now says his comments were "overinterpreted." Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tusk denies Putin ever suggested partitioning Ukraine]
I think on this occasion, Peskov has
it mostly right. Putin openly admits that for him, the greatest ruler in the history
of Russia was Empress Catherine
the Great, because during her reign "our country annexed the most
territory." But to follow in her footsteps and partition Ukraine, as she
long ago did to Poland, Putin, at least in 2008, did not intend to do. Particularly
not in alliance with the Poles, who are no partners for Moscow in such serious
He wanted the whole of Ukraine then - and he wants it now.
Six years ago he could count on obtaining it without paying a dime. Russia was
then at the peak of its "soft power" and was probably at its
historical "sexiest." Oil prices rose day after day, petrodollars
were flowing into the banks along the Moscow River, a dollar was worth 24
rubles and dropping in comparable value, and in the eyes of Russians, living standards
In Ukraine the leaders of the Orange Revolution
were caught up in a bitter struggle, the popularity of comrade Victor Yanukovych was
growing and supporters of Ukrainian integration with the E.U. and NATO were
much less numerous than those preferring its eastern neighbor.
Yes, Putin probably did seek to convince Tusk in February
2008 that Poland and Europe have no bone in the game for Ukraine, since it's not
a real country, just a "seasonal" one. He is, after all, convinced
that this is the case.†
But why invite someone to feast on a neighbor's body if one
can have it all to oneself? Why seek to incorporate the victim into a so called
Customs or Eurasian Union, which was being prepared by Moscow even then?