Russian Foreign Intelligence Chief has accused Poland of preparing to annex territories in western Ukraine.
In an interview with Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti, the director of the country’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, said that Poland is stepping up preparations to seize territories in western Ukraine.
“The information received by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service indicates that Warsaw is speeding up preparations for annexing Western Ukrainian lands: the territories of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and most of the Ternopil region of Ukraine,” Naryshkin said.
Naryshkin continued by saying that Polish President Andrzej Duda directed the relevant services to prepare an official justification for promptly laying claims to western Ukraine.
He explained that Warsaw is afraid that its NATO partners will try to negotiate with Moscow in the winter while not considering the interests of Ukraine and Poland. Therefore the Poles intend to act proactively.
According to Naryshkin, Poland wants to be compensated for providing military assistance to Kyiv, shelter for refugees, and the recent incident where a missile from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine landed in the eastern Polish town of Przewodówon, which killed two Polish citizens.
It remains unclear who fired the missile or where it was launched. While Ukraine maintains that it was a Russian missile, President Duda said it appeared to be a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to counter Russian bombardment but accidentally landed on Polish territory.
Whereas Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky disputed the Polish findings and requested that his officials be given access to the blast site for further investigation.
“Let’s say openly, if, God forbid, some remnant (of Ukraine’s air defenses) killed a person, these people, then we need to apologize. But first, there needs to be a probe and access — we want to get the data you have,” Zelensky said.
Naryshkin said that Polish authorities were aggravated by the Ukrainian missile landing in their territory but had to keep mum on the advice of the US and other European countries.
He also warned Poland against annexing Ukrainian territories while noting that history “is filled with bitter examples of clashes between Polish and Ukrainian nationalists” and urged Warsaw “not to step on the same rake.”
Russia Released A New Map
Since the start of the Ukraine war, several Russian officials have accused Poland of trying to annex the regions in Western Ukraine.
In July, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council and Former President Dmitry Medvedev shared two maps in a Telegram post to illustrate what he believed would be the fate of Ukraine going ahead.
The first map showed Ukraine’s territory before the Ukraine crisis of 2014, which includes Crimea and the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
While the second map showed Ukraine’s territory reduced to Kyiv and a small surrounding area with seven regions to the west annexed by Poland, which included Lviv, Lutsk, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, and Zhytomyr.
Apart from Poland, Medvedev’s map also showed three regions in Southwest Ukraine annexed by Hungary and Romania. Romania is depicted to have annexed two regions, namely, Chernivtsi and Vinnytsia, and Hungary is shown to have annexed Uzzhorod.
Poland Wants To Deploy Peacekeeping Force
According to the Russian narrative, Poland intends to deploy peacekeeping forces in those regions of Ukraine where the threat of a direct clash with the Russian military is minimal.
This narrative picked up, notably after Poland proposed a NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Ukraine that could assist humanitarian operations and would be strong enough to defend itself in combat.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said at the time that the proposed NATO-led peacekeeping mission, if approved, would most likely comprise Polish forces which would take control of western Ukraine and Lviv.
“They (Polish forces) would then stay there for a long while, and maybe that’s the point of the plan,” Lavrov said.
Poland tried to convince its NATO allies during the alliance’s summit in Brussels. However, the idea did not get traction because it would have required securing such a mission with boots on the ground and risking confrontation with Russia. Notably, even President Zelensky rejected this proposal.
“I do not understand this proposal. We do not need a frozen conflict, and I explained that at the meeting with our Polish colleagues. I know they continued this rhetoric,” Zelensky said.
“Fortunately, the country still belongs to us, and I am its President, so it is up to us to decide whether there will be any (foreign) forces here,” he added.