The Polish-Ukrainian grain crisis is a symptom of a larger problem. It’s a political crisis, with Law and Justice doing what politicians do: getting votes, even when it means alienating Ukrainians. Polish farmers aren’t fans of Ukraine at the moment, and Law and Justice needs to reflect that sentiment to secure their votes.

According a recent poll conducted on April 14-15, Law and Justice can count on 33 percent of the votes, and the opposition, united under the Civic Coalition banner, can count on 24.8 percent of the votes. Both Law and Justice and Civic Coalition have lost support in the recent poll, while Konfederacja and left-wing parties (Lewica) have gained ground. In April 2023, 10.4 percent of voters support Konfederacja and 9.4. support Lewica.

Then, we need to look at an even bigger picture, namely the geopolitical situation in the region. Belarus is going to have ready-to-use tactical nuclear weapons on its territory in July, with nearby Warsaw as the main target. The outcome of the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive is uncertain, particularly as the potential re-taking of the Crimean Peninsula is concerned.

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Casually brushing off nuclear concerns is a mistake, as Wendy Sherman, US Deputy Secretary of State, recently pointed out. She warned that Putin could use a tactical nuclear weapon in a managed escalation of his war in Ukraine. Putin can launch the nukes from Belarus and deny responsibility. Millions of lives are hanging in the balance. It’s a high-stakes poker game.

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In this precarious geopolitical context, Poland turning into a mini-Russia is a saddening scenario. In my previous article, I mentioned Roman Giertych, a prominent Polish lawyer and former deputy prime minister, who warns against Poland turning into a dictatorship if Law and Justice wins for the third time.

Donald Tusk, the former president of the European Council and the former prime minister of Poland, is mobilizing everyone to be in Warsaw on June 4, at high noon, and take part in a march in support of free elections. The march is also going to be a mass protest against high prices, thievery and lies.

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Why June 4 at high noon? You might have seen the “High Noon. 4 June, 1989” poster with actor Garry Cooper in his most famous role. The poster represented the first free elections in Poland after 50 years of Communist (and Nazi) rule. Solidarity icon, Lech Wałęsa, wrote on his Facebook page that he’s going to do all he can to take part in the march. The situation is serious. Poland is on the verge of a major socio-political crisis.

I don’t know if the mass protest on June 4 can change anything in Poland at this point. Riots in the streets after the autumn parliamentary elections in Poland are looking increasingly likely.

It’s the worst-case scenario – and Ukrainians must be ready for it. Paraphrasing Pericles: Just because you aren’t interested in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. Maybe the worst-case-scenario won’t materialize. Still, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

What can Ukrainians in Poland do to prepare for the possible chaos? Here are my five strategies.

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1.Talk to your Polish friends and acquaintances about their political views

It isn’t polite to talk about politics. Normally, I’d agree. But we’re in a crisis and normal rules don’t apply anymore. Be polite, yes, but firm. Talk to your Polish friends and acquaintances about their political views. Do they have a problem with Ukrainians in Poland? If so, why? These exchanges of views won’t be pleasant but can be cathartic. Pretending everything is fine isn’t going to get us anywhere. 

2. Don’t be provoked  

There are provocations happening on social media: Ukrainians, or people pretending to be Ukrainians, insult Poles in all sorts of ways. There’s no way to tell if it’s a coordinated campaign or just a few idiots unloading their frustration on the world. Still, it could lead to conflict and Ukrainians mustn’t take the bait. Ignoring such nonsense is the best option. If Ukrainians respond and get violent, this will only serve as proof that Ukrainians are a danger to Polish society, and will fuel anti-Ukrainian sentiment and Russian propaganda.

3. Show examples of Polish-Ukrainian integration

Poles sometimes talk about Ukrainization fears. But what does Ukrainization actually mean? In simple terms, some Poles are afraid Poland and Ukraine are going to become one state and Poles will lose their identity. By showing how Poles and Ukrainians integrate without losing their identities, these fears can be diminished.

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4. Forewarned is forearmed

You might need to leave Poland if things turn nasty. Do you have an alternative country you want to move to? Are your finances secure? Even when nothing happens, it’s better to be safe, than sorry. 

5. Don’t waste your time on hopeless cases

Some Poles are brainwashed to hate Ukraine and there’s no getting through to them. Nothing you say or do is going to change their anti-Ukrainian stance. Ignore them and move on.

What can the Ukrainian government do if the nightmare scenario in Poland comes to pass?

Continuing the high-level diplomatic initiatives aimed at strengthening bilateral relations is the best policy. It’s vital to keep the Polish-Ukrainian cooperation going on all levels of society and government. Dialogue is critically important, even when it’s unpleasant at times.

I hope reason prevails and Poland won’t turn into a dictatorship isolated from the world. The flourishing Polish-Ukrainian cooperation and US military presence in Poland are just two reasons why Poland is unlikely to just shut itself off from the world, no matter how much certain government forces would like to see that happen.

On a lighter note, maybe the ETs that might have recently visited Kyiv can help us turn Russia into a puppet state and eliminate the Russian peril once and for all? That would be nice. But for now, painful reality is staring us in the face, and no aliens are coming to save us. We must do that all on our own.

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 The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (4)

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Ted Cruz
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Hopefully, there are enough voters to prevent Poland from becoming another Hungary

Martha
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@Ted Cruz, this seems to be a tricky issue and not as easy as it seems. Polish opposition is a part of EPP in its majority, hence quite similar to French and German government’s. The governments famous rather for their warm feelings to the Russian elite and their monies. Moreover, Mr Macron and Mr Scholz’s political aims are to convince the US to leave Europe alone. Can you imagine the impact it would have on the war? Big picture is important to be reviewed.

At the same time the current Polish government is definitely pro-American (not mentioning GOP or Dems) creating several European initiatives to transfer tanks planes etc to Ukraine. Therefore, from Ukrainian’s point of view am not sure if a change of the Polish government is gonna be a blessing to fighting Ukrainian heros.

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Martha
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That is a bit strange to disseminate Russian propaganda by Kiev Post. An author lacks objectivity surely. And many other things too. Being smart does not also mean being knowledgeable.

This pice could have been written by fsb too. They explain the same way to Poles why Ukrainians can be dangerous to Poland. I always recognize this sound of their propaganda.

Adam Borowski
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@Martha, Thanks for the comment. And a compliment, I guess. Or, you could turn this around and say that Russian propagandists often project and accuse others of being... Russian propagandists. Anyway, I'm not objective, you're right. I'm a Pole so it affects me directly. I look forward to reading your piece where you expound upon your philosophy. Good day!

Martha
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@Adam Borowski,

Martha
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@Adam Borowski, dear Sir, being offensive to your readers does not seem as the best solution. Kind regards

Adam Borowski
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@Martha, If you felt offended, my apologies, Ma'am. Please continue commenting. Kind regards.

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Barruntaranchos
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I agree with Michal. Ukranians have more than enough problems to worry about such an hipothetical prospect. For what I know (I am in Spain), Poland is one of the EU countries most determined to support Ukraine and Ukrainians, so I think that the political situation because of the right-wing political pressure in Poland has nothing to do with support to Ukraine, and in now way support to Putin. The complaints about grain is something different, because grain that was supposed to transit Poland in other directions is sold in Poland at low prices, and that affects farmers, and that had to be solved.

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Michal
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I totally disagree with above mentioned thesis. Even though I am not a fan of current PL government I wouldn't be able to formulate such stake of bull*hit as above. This is intentional and unjustified scarying ukrainian people that shouldn't take place!

Adam Borowski
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@Michal, Thank you for your comment. I value it. Please share your own thoughts in an article where you show why I am wrong. Dialogue is critical. Good day. :)

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