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Even though the ascendancy of Catherine Il's armies in the Polish-Russian war of 1792 is beyond question, Poland's potential in that conflict - as opposed to the military force actually mobilized for war - has been much underrated. For one thing, most of the enthusiasts of the new Constitution of 3 May 1791 soon proved to be its fair-weather friends, only too ready to listen to the propaganda circulated by the Targowica party and the Russians. The latter were particularly effective in persuading the Poles that nothing good would come to them from a military confrontation with the Russian empire. Out of fear of various punitive measures, confiscations of property, and deportations to Siberia, not to mention death in (what was believed to be unequal) battle increasing numbers of the Polish genry deserted the radical cause and gave their allegiance to the Targowica alliance. The proclamations of the Targowica confederates were not short on solemn threats of reprisals for supporters of the new Constitution either, yet words from that quarter were, on the whole, not treated with dead seriousness. People tended to be more scared by the practical issue of billeting and feeding the Russian army which was to be stationed in Poland. The question of who would bear the cost of the supplies (the Russians were not to pay for them) dominated practically all Polish discussions in 1792-1793, leaving no room for any other subject of debate. Meanwhile, the Targowica party stepped up pressure by threatening the unrepentant supporters of the 1791 Constitution with 'military executions'. Yet the fear of Confederate retaliation did not affect all parts of the country to the same extent. It was certainly greatest in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania where the local leaders of the Targowica alliance, the Kossakowskis, introduced a veritable role of terror.
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