Russia's Vladimir Putin offered to divide Ukraine with Poland - Polish ex-minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Poland's then leader that they divide Ukraine between themselves as far back as 2008, Poland's parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview published by the US Politico website. -- PHOTO: A
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Poland's then leader that they divide Ukraine between themselves as far back as 2008, Poland's parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview published by the US Politico website. -- PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Poland's then leader that they divide Ukraine between themselves as far back as 2008, Poland's parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview published by the US Politico website.

According to Sikorski, who until September served as Poland's Foreign Minister, Putin made the proposal during Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's visit to Moscow in 2008.

"He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine ... This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow."

"He (Putin) went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don't we just sort it out together," Sikorski was quoted as saying in the interview dated Oct 19.

Before World War II, Poland's territory included parts of today's western Ukraine, including some major cities such as Lwow, known as Lviv in Ukraine.

According to Sikorski, who accompanied Tusk on his trip to Moscow, Tusk did not reply to Putin's suggestion, because he knew he was being recorded, but Poland never expressed any interest in joining the Russian operation.

"We made it very, very clear to them - we wanted nothing to do with this," Sikorski said.

Sikorski's account is not the first suggestion that Russia was seeking Poland's support in partitioning Ukraine.

Following the annexation of Crimea, Russian parliamentary speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky sent a letter to the governments of Poland, Romania and Hungary, proposing a joint division of the country.