Poland, a steadfast ally of Ukraine, has announced its discontinuation of weapon supplies to its neighbour amidst an escalating diplomatic feud over grain. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has clarified that Poland’s focus has shifted towards strengthening its own defences with more advanced weaponry.
Poland has already dispatched 320 Soviet-era tanks and 14 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, leaving little more to offer in terms of military aid. Nevertheless, this decision comes at a time when tensions between the two nations are running high.
On Tuesday, Poland summoned Ukraine’s ambassador in response to comments made by President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations. Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, extended a ban on Ukrainian grain, prompting President Zelensky to express concern about how some European allies were turning solidarity into a political spectacle, referring to it as “making a thriller from grain.” Warsaw deemed these remarks as unjustified, given Poland’s longstanding support for Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict.
Prime Minister Morawiecki, in an interview with the private Polsat news TV channel, stated, “We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons.” He underscored Poland’s commitment to assisting Ukraine in countering the “Russian barbarian” through the maintenance of a military hub. However, he emphasized the importance of not destabilizing Poland’s markets with grain imports.
The grain dispute originated from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted Black Sea shipping lanes, necessitating alternative overland routes for Ukrainian grain. This led to a surplus of grain in central Europe, prompting the temporary EU ban on grain imports into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia to protect local farmers.
While the EU chose not to renew the ban, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland decided to maintain it. The European Commission has consistently stated that trade policy for the bloc should not be determined by individual member states.
Ukraine filed lawsuits with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against these countries over the bans, alleging violations of international obligations. Poland, however, remains steadfast in maintaining the ban, and Poland’s foreign ministry noted that “pressuring Poland in multilateral forums or resorting to international courts is not an appropriate method to resolve differences between our countries.”
Despite the ban, the three countries have agreed to allow the transit of grain through their territories to other markets. Kyiv has urged Poland to approach the dispute constructively and leave emotions aside following the summoning of Ukraine’s ambassador.
French Foreign Minister Catherina Colonna revealed on Wednesday that an EU study indicated Ukrainian grain imports would not significantly harm European farmers. She described the tensions as regrettable.
Poland has been a strong supporter of Ukraine, urging Germany to provide Leopard 2 battle tanks, pledging fighter jets, and welcoming over 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia.