Riga, Peace Treaty of

Riga, Peace Treaty of. A convention, signed on 18 March 1921, between the Polish government and the governments of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (RSFSR) and the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, ending the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–20. The peace negotiations commenced on 17 August 1920 in Minsk, and from 21 September 1920 they were conducted in Riga. The Polish delegation was headed by J. Dąbski; the Russian, by K. Danishevsky (Minsk) and A. Joffe (Riga); and the Ukrainian, by Dmytro Manuilsky, Emmanuil Kviring, and Yurii Kotsiubynsky. The delegations of the Ukrainian National Republic, headed by Andrii Livytsky, and the Western Ukrainian National Republic, headed by Kost Levytsky, were not admitted to the negotiations: Ukraine had, in effect, already been divided in principle between the emerging Soviet state (the Ukrainian SSR) and Poland (eastern Galicia).

On 12 October 1920 both sides signed the preliminary treaty, and on 2 November 1920 they exchanged preliminary documents. Nonetheless the Polish armies remained on the territories to the east of the provisionally delineated Polish-Soviet frontier, where they were protecting the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic troops of Symon Petliura, which were engaged in combat against the Bolsheviks in the regions of Berdychiv, Zhytomyr, Mohyliv-Podilskyi, and Kamianets-Podilskyi. Not until 14 November 1920 was a protocol that compelled the Polish side to withdraw its armed forces signed. The final editing of the text of the treaty lasted from mid-November 1920 until the beginning of March 1921.

The Riga treaty is composed of 26 articles. In Article 2 both sides recognized the independence of Ukraine and Belarus (in accordance with the principle of the self-determination of nations) and established the line of frontiers. The Poles received a considerable piece of territory east of the Curzon Line, which had been designated earlier by the Allies as the border between Poland and Ukraine. In the subsequent articles both sides bound themselves to recognize the other's sovereignty and to refrain from spreading hostile propaganda and from harboring in their territories organizations which would pursue activities directed against the other party (Article 5). The Poles in Russia and Ukraine and the Ukrainians and Russians in Poland received a guarantee of their cultural, linguistic and religious rights (Article 7). Furthermore the Riga Treaty regulated the questions of citizenship, war reparations (from which both sides resigned), the repatriation of the population, the principles of the transit of commodities, and the relocation of state, self-government, and private property.

In Article 11 Soviet Russia bound itself to return to Poland all art collections, archives, and libraries that had been removed from Poland after 1772, as well as (Article 13) to pay 30 million rubles in gold as Poland's share of the assets of the former Russian Empire. Finally, the treaty foresaw (Article 24) the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The treaty was ratified by the Polish Sejm on 15 April 1921 and by the Russian and Ukrainian soviets on 14 and 17 April, and the ratification documents were exchanged in Minsk on 3 May. It remained valid until 17 September 1939, when the Soviet Army occupied Western Belarus and Western Ukraine.

Dąbski, J. Pokój ryski (Warsaw 1931)
Wandycz, P. Soviet-Polish Relations, 1917–1921 (Cambridge, Mass 1969)
Hunchak, T. (ed). Ukraïns’ka revoliutsiia: Dokumenty, 1919–1921 (New York 1984)
Kumaniecki, J. Pokój polsko-radziecki, 1921 (Warsaw 1985)

Bohdan Budurowicz, Andrzej Chojnowski

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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