Poland No Longer Arming Ukraine, Says Polish Prime Minister

Poland summoned the Ukrainian ambassador for a dressing down following President Zelenskyy's UN remarks.
Poland No Longer Arming Ukraine, Says Polish Prime Minister
(L) Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for the European Council Summit, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on June 29, 2023. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images) (R) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a high level Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine on the sidelines of the 78th U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 20, 2023. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Wednesday that the country will cease providing weapons to Ukraine. This decision came shortly after Warsaw summoned Ukraine's ambassador, amid a dispute over grain exports.

Instead of sending weapons to Ukraine, Poland, which has been a staunch ally since Russia invaded in February 2022, will focus on arming itself, the prime minister said.

"We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” said Mr. Morawiecki, who was speaking on Polsat News.

"If you want to defend yourself, you have to have something to defend with," he said. "We adhere to that principle, that is why we have placed increased orders."

In addition to arming Ukraine amid the conflict, Poland is hosting 1 million Ukrainian refugees, who have received various types of government assistance.

The move comes after remarks made by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the United Nations General Assembly.

President Zelenskyy's comments alluded to nations feigning solidarity with Ukraine and indirectly aiding Russia through their positions on grain exports. This drew a sharp rebuke from Warsaw, which has consistently supported Ukraine since the onset of the conflict.

“It is alarming to see how some in Europe play out solidarity in a political theatre—making a thriller from the grain," President Zelenskyy said. "They may seem to play their own role but in fact, they are helping set the stage for a Moscow actor."

The Polish prime minister decried the remarks as "unjustified concerning Poland, which has supported Ukraine since the first days of the war.”

Following these remarks, Poland's prime minister warned that more bans could be imposed on Ukrainian exports, should things escalate.

“I am warning Ukraine’s authorities," Mr. Morawiecki said. "Because if they are to escalate the conflict like that, we will add additional products to the ban on imports into Poland. Ukrainian authorities do not understand the degree to which Poland’s farming industry has been destabilized. We are protecting Polish farmers.”

The escalating dispute stems from a grain trade crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted Black Sea shipping routes. This forced Ukraine to seek alternative overland routes, leading to significant volumes of Ukrainian grain reaching central Europe.

In May, the European Union (EU) consequently banned imports of Ukrainian grain into Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland temporarily in an effort to protect local farmers who were concerned about the impact of Ukrainian grain on local prices.

Products were still able to pass through the five countries but the measures prevented their sale on the local markets.

This ban lapsed on Sept. 15, and the EU chose not to renew it; however, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland have opted to continue enforcing it, contrary to the EU's stance that trade policy is an EU-wide prerogative.

The Polish prime minister said on Wednesday he regrets that Ukrainian oligarchs "pushed their grain onto the Polish market" without regard for local farmers. This action, he said, lowered prices and led the government to introduce price guarantees and ultimately the ban.

“We were the first to do a lot for Ukraine and that’s why we expect for them to understand our interests,” Mr. Morawiecki said. “Of course we respect all of their problems, but for us, the interests of our farmers are the most important thing.”

Ukraine has warned that it will take the dispute to the World Trade Organization, accusing the three EU member states of violating international obligations. Ukraine's Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko contended that individual EU member states cannot ban Ukrainian imports.

Nevertheless, Poland was undaunted, stating that a "complaint before the WTO doesn't impress us.”

The bans by these EU member states won't affect the passage of Ukrainian grain through their territories to other markets, the countries have said.

"Of course, we will maintain the transit of Ukrainian goods," Mr. Morawiecki said. "Poland does not bear any costs due to that. On the contrary, it could be said that we earn from it."

Poland's support for Ukraine has been substantial, encompassing calls for Germany to supply Leopard 2 battle tanks, the provision of fighter jets to Ukraine, and the welcoming of more than 1.5 million refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Kyiv has urged Warsaw to set aside emotions and adopt a constructive approach to address the dispute.

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