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Joint Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian military unit may be used to occupy Ukraine, Putin warns

The Russian leader stresses that if Polish units enter Lvov or some other territories in Ukraine, they will be staying put there to remain on the ground "for good"

MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/. Plans may be in the works to use an intended Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian joint military unit as an occupation force in western Ukrainian territories, and any Polish forces entering Lvov are certain to remain there, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a working meeting of the Security Council.

"I cannot but comment on what has just been said [by Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergey Naryshkin] and on the press reports that have appeared about plans to create a so-called Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian unit. We’re not talking here about some motley crew of mercenaries - there are enough of them there [in Ukraine] already, and they are being destroyed - but rather about a regular, well-oiled, well-equipped military formation that is planned to be used for operations on the territory of Ukraine," Putin said.

"In particular [this is being done] purportedly for ensuring the security of contemporary western Ukraine, but in fact - if you call things by their proper names - for the subsequent occupation of these territories. After all, the future outlook is obvious; if Polish units enter Lvov, for example, or some other territories in Ukraine, then they will be staying put there. And they will remain there for good," he added.

History lessons for Poland

According to the Russian head of state, "this will not represent anything new," recalling that after the defeat of Germany and the other Central Powers in World War I, Polish units occupied Lvov and adjacent lands, which were then part of Austria-Hungary.

"Goaded by the West, Poland took advantage of the tragedy of Russia’s Civil War to annex certain historically Russian provinces. Our country, which was then going through a difficult period, was forced to sign the Treaty of Riga in 1921 and de facto recognize the alienation of its own territories," Putin noted.

Moreover, even before 1920, Poland seized part of Lithuania - the Vilna region, which includes modern-day Vilnius.

"Together with the Lithuanians, they [the Poles] were supposedly battling against so-called Russian imperialism, but as soon as the opportunity arose, they immediately ‘carved out’ a chunk of land from their neighbor," the Russian president noted. He further recited how, "Poland also took part in the carve-up of Czechoslovakia resulting from the Munich agreement with Hitler in 1938," completely occupying Cieszyn Silesia.

"In the 1920s and 1930s, the so-called Kresy Wschodnie of Poland [‘Eastern Borderlands’ in Polish - TASS] - and this includes the territory of western Ukraine, western Belarus and part of Lithuania - were subjected to a harsh policy of Polonization and forced assimilation of local residents, [including the] suppression of ethnic cultures and Orthodox Christianity," Putin noted.

He recalled that such an aggressive policy ultimately ended for Poland with the loss of national independence and statehood in 1939, which were later restored "to a large extent thanks to the Soviet Union." Moreover, "the western territories of present-day Poland were Stalin's gift to the Poles. Have our friends in Warsaw forgotten about this? We will remind them," the Russian leader added.