“Our security services should raise this issue internationally, including even as part of NATO,” Roman Polko, a former head of Poland’s National Security Bureau (BBN), has been quoted as saying in a media interview.
He was responding to questions about Lyudmyla Kozlovska, a Ukrainian national who heads a Poland-based group that has reportedly called for the conservative government in Warsaw to be overthrown.
Polko’s comments, published by the wpolityce.pl news website, came after the Security Service of Ukraine reportedly said it was investigating suspected treason and other possible crimes committed by Kozlovska, who heads a Poland-based organisation called the Open Dialogue Foundation.
Kozlovska has been accused of treason and other offences in Ukraine, including inciting changes to that country’s borders and massive fraud, according to the wpolityce.pl website.
Polko, who formerly commanded Poland’s GROM special forces unit, was quoted as saying in an interview that “Above all, when it comes to this lady, we are dealing with an information war.”
He also said that “there must be better communication within the European Union itself and understanding, without giving in to propaganda,” wpolityce.pl reported.
“It is difficult to understand that we are expelling her and that someone else takes her back later,” Polko was quoted as saying, referring to media reports according to which Kozlovska in September visited Berlin despite previously being expelled from the European Union and having her name flagged in the Schengen Information System, a key EU travel and crime database.
“The fact that the Ukrainian services are conducting proceedings against this lady … shows that the issue is unclear and that it needs to be clarified,” Polko said, as quoted by wpolityce.pl.
Polko also told the website: “Putin is rejoicing out there in the Kremlin that we have another problem—regardless of whether she [Kozlovska] is his agent or not.”
Polko told wpolityce.pl that “it is an absolute scandal that Kozlovska was admitted to the EU” after she was expelled from Poland and the European Union as a whole.
“But it is an even bigger scandal that a person who is suspected of acting against her own country and other EU members is in fact being portrayed as someone carrying the banner of democracy,” Polko said, according to wpolityce.pl.
“It’s difficult to call that political correctness—rather it’s naivety. What is really needed is solidarity within the EU and talks between the [security] services to examine the facts the way they are, while not succumbing to the rhetoric of Kremlin trolls. They are great at exploiting any contradictions that emerge within the EU, playing them off to their own advantage.”
Asked about accusations cited by Ukraine’s security services according to which Kozlovska is suspected of inciting attempts to change that country’s borders, Polko said that “such calls, if heeded, could certainly result in a war or lead to an escalation of a conflict.”
He added: “Again, all this is panning out under the dictates of the Kremlin. This is an absolute scandal, and the people in Germany or other EU states who gave this lady permission to appear in their countries, should consider whether they would be as tolerant in their approach if someone were inciting border changes … to their own countries.
“Briefly put, this is [just] another way of inciting war, domestic or even international.”
Polko agreed when asked if calls for border changes take on special significance in the context of developments such as Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
“Exactly so, because it actually reflects the Russian rhetoric that was put in place already before the annexation of Crimea,” he said.
“This is about influencing information to create an impression that Crimea is in fact Russian and that it should be within Russia’s borders.”
Polko added: “We are increasingly hearing voices, some of them coming from otherwise serious politicians on the international arena and as part of the NATO alliance, that Russia actually deserved to take Crimea.
"They are overlooking the fact that international agreements signed by Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom are being violated. At the same time, these very same politicians in the next breath question the presence of [Western alliance military] bases in Poland, arguing that this is inconsistent with the agreement that we signed when joining NATO to the effect that no such NATO installations would be placed on our territory. Let me repeat once again: one cannot succumb to hybrid warfare.”
Asked if he believed the Kremlin was indeed playing the Kozlovska case to its own advantage as part of an information war, Polko said: “Putin could not have imagined anything else. This element of the hybrid war, in my opinion, is not only about [allegations of] treason against Ukraine, but also about attacking the EU.
"I do not know where mistakes have been made, but our [security] services should raise this issue internationally, including even as part of NATO. The question is why a voice is being ignored in defence of our security and democracy. Because this lady – according to how it has been reported in the online media – has been portrayed as a defender of democracy who has been harmed. It is necessary to prove that this is not the case.”
Meanwhile, another Polish security expert has told wpolityce.pl that the reported probe by the Security Service of Ukraine into the Poland-based Open Dialogue Foundation confirms that authorities in Warsaw were right to treat the group’s head as a security threat.