The message reads, in part:
“I would like to sincerely greet all the organisers of and participants in the historical documentary project dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Polish-Soviet War and the signing of the Treaty of Riga. The large-scale and painstaking work by the Federal Archival Agency, the Foreign Ministry and the Russian Historical Society has made it possible to collect and display unique and largely unknown archival documents at the exhibition and also online for the first time. It is impossible to understand and comprehend key historical events, including those which led to World War II, unless we study them in a serious manner.
Two states striving to achieve ambitious goals confronted each other during the Polish-Soviet War. Polish leaders perceived the reinstatement of the old-time borders of Rzeczpospolita as their task. Bolshevik leaders dreamed of a world revolution. The Polish Army’s offensive on the Belarusian and Ukrainian Soviet republics, linked with Soviet Russia by allied agreements, preceded fighting at the approaches to Warsaw in August 1920. I would like to recall that Polish forces had seized most of Belarus and all of Western Ukraine by late 1919, and that they and their allies, commanded by Symon Petlyura, had entered Kiev on May 7, 1920.
Signed in Riga on March 18, 1921, the treaty touched upon territorial issues and was therefore largely similar to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Today, we can see that the then re-division of Europe, the often arbitrary and unfair demarcation of borders had stepped up confrontation between states and helped create conditions for a new world war.
The Soviet side was forced to agree with the fact that Poland had established control over 50 percent of modern Belarus’ territory and 25 percent of modern Ukraine. The transfer of Belarusian and Ukrainian territories to another state did not meet the then ethnic, cultural or social realities. On the one hand, it facilitated discrimination against the local population; and, on the other hand, it helped encourage extreme nationalist ideas. We also recall the tragic fate of the Red Army soldiers who were taken prisoner; many of them perished in Polish camps.
It goes without saying that we need a well-thought-out and objective assessment of long-time relations between the Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Polish nations using well-documented historical facts. The current historical documentary project is another step allowing us to turn the difficult pages of the past, so that events that took place 100 years ago do not become the subject of deliberate distortion or manipulation, so that, instead of dividing states, they serve to strengthen mutual trust.”
The historical documentary exhibition The Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1921. The Treaty of Riga 1921, dedicated to the armed confrontation between Soviet Russia and Poland and the resolution of the conflict by diplomatic means opened on March 16 in Moscow. It displays historical documents from the holdings of the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, the Russian State Military Archive, the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of Modern History and other federal archives, the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation and the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Empire, contributed by the Foreign Ministry’s Department of History and Records, the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation and state archives of Belarus. The exhibition also features unique museum items, sound recordings and newsreels. An internet project with full-length electronic copies of over 1,000 archive documents is also part of the exhibition.