29/3/1917 Russia offers Poland independence

The revolution in Russia has unleashed forces long bottled up by the Tsarist autocracy. The various non-Russian nationalities in the empire are now clamouring for a greater say in the government of their affairs together with more recognition for their language and cultural rights. But the Provisional Government is wary of offering too many concessions to the various minorities. They fear that this run the risk of encouraging centrifugal forces that will break up the country.

There is one exception to the Provisional Government’s cold shouldering of nationalism. Today they declare their support for Polish independence. But Polish independence is an easy promise to make. Most of Poland has been overrun by Germany and Austria-Hungary and is unlikely to ever be recovered by Russia. The Provisional Government hopes that by offering Poland its independence the Poles can be encouraged to fight against their Teutonic occupiers.

Poland remains an exception. The Provisional Government is determined to hold the line against demands by other nationalists. In particular there are to be no concessions to nationalist sentiment in Finland or Ukraine.

image source (Mental Floss WWI Centennial)

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