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Poland Demands Ukraine’s Accountability For WWII Mass Killings

In a significant move, Poland’s lower house of parliament, the Sejm, passed a resolution emphasizing the crucial need for accountability regarding the mass killings of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II. The resolution was adopted on Tuesday, coinciding with Poland’s commemoration of the victims of wartime atrocities in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, which occurred 80 years ago. Poland considers these acts of violence to be genocide, primarily perpetrated by members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the militant wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

According to the Polish MPs, the attacks carried out by the OUN and UPA, with support from some local Ukrainian communities, resulted in the brutal mass killings of over 100,000 Poles. Many victims met a horrific fate. The atrocities forced several hundred thousand people to flee, fearing a similar destiny.

The OUN, aligned with Nazi German invaders, sought to establish a Ukrainian nation state and targeted groups that they believed obstructed their cause. The victims included not only Poles but also Jews, Czechs, Russians, and ethnic Ukrainians who opposed the purges. The Polish resolution highlighted that this ethnic cleansing campaign was accompanied by the destruction of cultural and religious artifacts and properties.

The lawmakers emphasized that Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, which has been painstakingly built by representatives of both nations over the years, must encompass recognition of guilt and commemoration of the victims.

Numerous Polish officials expressed their expectation for gestures of accountability from Kiev during the 80th anniversary of the tragedy. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during a joint commemoration in Western Ukraine with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, did not offer a formal apology. The Ukrainian government regards the UPA and its leaders as national heroes for their fight for Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union.

Kiev’s ambassador to Warsaw, Vasily Zvarych, previously cautioned Poland against pressuring Ukraine into taking unacceptable steps regarding their shared past.

As Poland takes a firm stance on seeking justice and accountability, the stage is set for a critical phase of reconciliation between the two nations. The resolution reflects Poland’s determination to address the mass killings as part of painful history and build a future based on acknowledgment, remembrance, and understanding.

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