‘Poland and Ukraine’ by Karl Radek from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 3 No. 9. August 28, 1920.

‘Poland and Ukraine’ by Karl Radek from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 3 No. 9. August 28, 1920.

THE Polish press has of late been devoting considerable attention to the Ukrainian question. The Polish landed proprietors, who held the Ukrainian peasants in bondage for ages, and who are now waging war against the Ukrainians in order to secure for the future the opportunity of exploiting the Ukrainian landless peasants, and the poor of Eastern Galicia, who are seizing Podolia and Volhynia in order to save the estates of the Branitzkys and Pototzkys from the Ukrainian peasantry, who are shouting that the Ukrainian nationality was invented by the Austrian Governor-General Stadion, — these Polish landed proprietors have suddenly begun to worry about the fate of Ukrainian culture and democracy, which — they say — is threatened by the Bolshevist peril.

In December they were negotiating with Petlura. Petlura was assuring his braves that these negotiations were only fictitious, but that they were necessary as a cover for his flight from Denikin to Warsaw. But the Polish press now reports that these negotiations are very real, and that Petlura really sought aid from the Poles. That Petlura is capable of doing this, is beyond doubt. He is irresistibly rolling downward, since he is unable to retain power with the forces of the handful of intellectuals who are his only support.

1918 map.

In February, 1918, the Ukrainian Rada sold out to German imperialism. They reasoned as follows: German imperialism wants the Ukrainian produce, but is indifferent to the fate of the Ukrainian landed proprietors. The Rada must remain a peasants’ party, at the same time seeking protection from the German government. But, unable to give anything to the peasants, the Ukrainian Rada was also unable to furnish the produce to the Germans, and was therefore discarded by them. In its place, the Germans installed Skoropadaky, whose mission was to create for German imperialism a basis of support in the Russian and Polish landed proprietors. The illusion of the compatibility of a peasant democracy with German imperialism collapsed.

Symon Petlura.

Petlura tried to repeat this experiment with regard to the Anglo-French imperialism, but the Allies — who were gambling on the counter-revolution of the Russian landed proprietors — did not give Petlura the opportunity to feel on his own hide that Allied imperialism differs in no way from the German. Petlura was beaten by the Red Army, was beaten by the Denikin bands, and, realizing his absolute impotence, he now intends, it seems, to throw himself into the arms of the Poles. This is but the play of one who is hopelessly bankrupt, for Petlura cannot have even the slightest hope that, remaining a peasant ruler, he can at the same time accept help from the government of the Polish landed proprietors who have in Ukraine more enormous estates than had the Russian landed proprietors. And if Petlura agrees to a bargain with the landed proprietors, he thereby unreservedly renounces the social and national program which was the basis of his policy. Petlura and his adherents have only one thing left — to fight for their own hides.

Offering their friendship to Ukraine, the Polish nobility and landed proprietors are simulating no less, if not more, than the German imperialists. For the German military had yet to demonstrate to the Ukrainian workers and peasants its attitude toward them, but the Polish landed proprietors the Ukrainian people know only too well, know them through long experience, and with regard to them there certainly cannot be even the slightest illusions. The Ukrainian people will rise against the Polish nobles more promptly and energetically than they rose against Denikin.


The fact that with an extremely disorganized transport and in the absence of any important aid at all from the Allies, the Polish Government dares to undertake such an adventure, proves anew the truth of the proverb: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

The Russian and Ukrainian Soviet governments made a peace offer to Poland. They expressed their readiness to discuss peaceably all disputable territorial questions which might arise. And if the Chief of the Polish State, ex-revolutionary Pilsudski, whose head has been turned by the victories on the weak western front, intends to seize Ukraine under the pretext of liberating that country, we have no doubt that this adventure will end very sadly for him and for the Polish landed proprietors and French capitalist circles whose puppet he is.


The Russian workers and peasants know that the Soviet Government did everything possible for a peaceful settlement, and the Polish workers and peasants will know that the government of the Polish landowners did everything to get war. After all the sufferings that the Polish people underwent, they unquestionably desire peace. And we have no reason to worry about the outcome.

The judgment of the Polish workers and peasants on the adventurous policy of the Polish landed proprietors will at the same time be a judgment on the Polish conciliators and compromisers. Pilsudski is even now a member of the Polish Socialist Party. That party bears the full responsibility for his policy. It is helping the Polish landed proprietors in their vile undertaking, and representing Soviet Russia and the Soviet Government as a government of national violence and national aggression.

By exploiting the justified suspicion on the part of the Polish people toward the Czarist government, in order to create a distrust of the Russian toiling masses, the Polish compromisers are assisting the Polish landed proprietors in their policy, which aims at the conquest and enslavement of Ukraine, masking themselves with the idea of uniting around Poland the Ukrainian states, which would serve as a screen for the Polish imperialism precisely as the renowned Tariba served as a screen for German imperialism.

The Polish compromisers talk of peace with Soviet Russia and simultaneously create conditions for a war against her. If this war should become a fact, it will be the end of these henchmen of the Polish bourgeoisie and Polish landed proprietors just as it will be the end of the bourgeoisie and of the landed proprietors themselves.

Soviet Russia began in the summer of 1919, published by the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia and replaced The Weekly Bulletin of the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia. In lieu of an Embassy the Russian Soviet Government Bureau was the official voice of the Soviets in the US. Soviet Russia was published as the official organ of the RSGB until February 1922 when Soviet Russia became to the official organ of The Friends of Soviet Russia, becoming Soviet Russia Pictorial in 1923. There is no better US-published source for information on the Soviet state at this time, and includes official statements, articles by prominent Bolsheviks, data on the Soviet economy, weekly reports on the wars for survival the Soviets were engaged in, as well as efforts to in the US to lift the blockade and begin trade with the emerging Soviet Union.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/srp/v3n03-jul-17-1920-soviet-russia.pdf

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