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Ukraine Angered By Poland’s Calls To Apologize For Volyn Massacre

The recent call by the Polish Foreign Ministry for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to apologize for the Volyn massacre committed during World War II has brought to light the ongoing tensions between Poland and Ukraine. Lukasz Jasina, the spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, stated that Zelensky should assume greater responsibility for his nation’s past atrocities, specifically referring to the mass murder committed by Ukrainian nationalists against ethnic Poles.

The Volyn massacre, which occurred between 1943 and 1944, was part of an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) against the local Polish population in Western Ukraine and Eastern Poland. It resulted in the deaths of an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Poles, mostly women and children. The UPA, a paramilitary wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), had a radical anti-Semitic ideology and collaborated with Nazi Germany’s troops, participating in the extermination of Jews as well.

Poland’s recognition of the Volyn Massacres as genocide in 2016 and its prohibition of the promotion of the ideology associated with Stepan Bandera, the leader of OUN, have further strained relations between Poland and Ukraine. Bandera has been hailed as a national hero in Ukraine since 2010, causing controversy and protests from Poland and Israel, who have urged Ukraine to refrain from glorifying “war criminals.”

The Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman emphasized the importance of addressing the Volyn massacre at the highest level and expressed disappointment in the lack of sufficient acknowledgment and apology from Ukraine. Jasina highlighted that this issue remains a significant hurdle in bilateral relations, hindering collaborative efforts between the two countries.

Ukraine’s response to Poland’s call for an apology has been critical, with Ukrainian Ambassador to Warsaw Vasily Zvarych denouncing any attempts to impose demands on Ukraine regarding its past.

“Any attempt to impose on the Ukrainian president or Ukraine [and tell us] what we must [do] about our common past is unacceptable and unfortunate,” he said on Facebook on Saturday.

He emphasized the need for balance and respect in discussions and acknowledged that Ukraine remembers history.

The controversy surrounding the Volyn massacre serves as a reminder of the complex historical narratives and conflicting perspectives that shape international relations. As Poland and Ukraine continue to navigate this sensitive issue, open and respectful dialogue is crucial to finding common ground and fostering understanding between the two nations.

Check out other articles in our World section.


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