During his Sunday speech at the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, President Andrzej Duda said everything that should be said and done regarding Ukraine. For his vision to become reality, however, it is necessary to change the way Europe thinks about what would be an acceptable outcome of the war.
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"Shche ne vmerla Ukrayina" (Ukraine has not yet perished) – this is how Andrzej Duda opened his address to the Ukrainian parliament on Sunday. He is not the first Polish President to begin his speech by quoting the Ukrainian national anthem, which is itself a direct reference to the Polish one. Before him, Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Bronisław Komorowski did it as well. Sixteen years ago, President Lech Kaczyński invited the then President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to the village of Pawłokoma, the site of a massacre that Poles committed against Ukrainians in 1945, marking the beginning of a difficult attempt at national reconciliation. Together with Radosław Sikorski, the then head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he tried to open the path for Ukraine to join NATO in Bucharest in 2008.

Despite mutual accusations of being Russian assets, regardless of the party in power, the Polish government and the opposition have always supported Ukraine in its pro-European aspirations. Arguably the greatest achievement of the Third Polish Republic was anchoring our country in NATO and the European Union. President Duda's speech points towards yet another critical goal: creating not only formal, but also geostrategic security guarantees for Poland - that is, repelling Russian aggression against Ukraine. This means crushing Russian offensive capabilities for years, with all its consequences, and incorporating our Ukrainian neighbors into Western Europe.

During his speech at the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, President Andrzej Duda said everything that we should do and Ukrainians should hear. He said that there should be no borders between the two countries, which are connected by their origins and an often very problematic history. He argued that both countries can create a large and complementary economic zone. That Ukrainians in Poland are not war refugees, but guests. And finally, and most importantly, that by heroically opposing Russia, the Ukrainian people are not only defending themselves but also Poland and the entire Europe.

For President Duda’s vision to become reality, it is necessary to change the way Europe thinks about the acceptable outcome of the war. The further one travels from Ukraine's borders, the more often one can hear not about the need for victory over Russia, but about peace in Europe. In 1938, Czechoslovakia paid for such an illusory peace in Europe with territories inhabited by Sudeten Germans. Yet, it did not save the continent from another war supposed to expand the living space of the German people.

Even countries that were once victims of Russian "liberation efforts" (like Hungary) still refuse to accept what President Andrzej Duda was trying to express in his Sunday address. For the time being, only the United Kingdom and the United States can be said to share our view. It is important that the words "nothing about you without you" uttered in Kyiv echo what President Bill Clinton told Poles in Warsaw in 1997 before Poland’s NATO accession- it marked the end of the Yalta era when great powers decided the fate of smaller states.

It probably won’t be Poland’s voice that will be crucial in convincing European leaders to change their thinking. The stance of the US President, the victories of Ukrainian troops at the front, and the attitude of Western societies favoring Ukraine will be of the greatest importance here. However, for the first time since 1920, an independent Ukraine and Poland have a chance to counterbalance Russia in Europe.


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