Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in a speech before the Sejm (lower house of parliament) on Thursday, April 25 stated that Poland has no territorial claims to Ukraine.

“Russia is lying about Poland’s alleged plans to annex part of Ukraine. Donbas is Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine. Lviv, Volyn, and the former Eastern Galicia [Halychyna] are also Ukraine. So, I’m repeating this for the Kremlin to hear: Lviv is Ukraine,” the foreign minister reiterated in Ukrainian as well as in Polish.

Sikorsky’s words were met with applause from most of the lawmakers present in the hall.

He emphasized that Russian leaders and propagandists are trying to set Poles against Ukrainians, but they will not succeed.

“They are losing on this front as well,” Sikorski said.

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His statements come against the background of historical tension between Ukrainians and Poles. Much of western Ukraine was ruled from Poland from the 15th to the late 18th centuries. After the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was divided in 1772, those lands went to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War, whereupon they became part of the Republic of Poland.

The tensions became extremely violent during World War II, when Ukrainian nationalists ethnically cleansed many Polish villages in Volhynia, which was followed by reprisal ethnic cleansing of Ukrainian settlements in what is now eastern Poland.

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Russia has consistently used its propaganda machine to exacerbate historic tensions between Ukraine and Poland. Among the more notable Russian psychological operations of recent years are giving voice to Polish nationalists claiming western Ukraine, especially the city of Lviv, as rightfully Polish.

At one point a frequently debunked fake map from 2014 was making its way across social media, claiming to show how Poland intended to divide Ukraine with Russia.

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