Poland to stop supplying weapons to Ukraine over grain dispute

Poland to stop supplying weapons to Ukraine over grain dispute

Poland’s prime minister has announced the country will no longer supply weapons to Ukraine but arm itself instead amid a growing dispute over grain imports.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Russia’s invasion, but tensions between the two countries escalated quickly after Poland, Hungary and Slovakia extended a unliateral ban on Ukrainian farm imports to protect local farmer interests.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a televised address on Wednesday: “We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons.”

The announcement comes in response to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments to the United Nations General Assembly. He said Kyiv was working to preserve land routes for grain exports, but added that the “political theatre” around grain imports was only helping Russia.

Poland summoned Kyiv’s envoy to the foreign ministry on Wednesday, while Ukraine’s foreign ministry called for calm in the dispute.

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced curbs on grain imports from Ukraine on Friday after the European Commission decided not to extend a ban on sales into five EU states, including Romania and Bulgaria.

The ban was introduced to protect farmers from a surge of grain and food imports from Ukraine, after Russia’s invasion largely blocked Ukraine’s routes via Black Sea ports.

Poland’s foreign ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski had “conveyed the Polish side’s strong protest against the statements” made by President Zelensky at the UN General Assembly, “alleging that some EU countries feigned solidarity while indirectly supporting Russia”.

It said Mr Jablonski also told Ambassador Vasyl Zvarych that “putting pressure on Poland in multilateral forums or sending complaints to international tribunals are not appropriate methods of resolving disputes between our countries”.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko, writing on Facebook, said: “We urge our Polish friends to put aside their emotions. The Ukrainian side has offered Poland a constructive path to resolve the grain issue.”

Mr Nikolenko said Ukraine’s ambassador explained their position on the “unacceptability” of the Polish ban and suggested Kyiv’s proposals “will become the basis for moving the dialogue into a constructive course”.

Ukraine’s ambassador also underlined the “incorrectness” of remarks by Polish President Andrzej Duda in New York that Ukraine should remember that it receives help from Poland, he added.

Mr Duda had likened Kyiv to a “drowning person”.

Romanian Agriculture Minister Florin Barbu, meanwhile, said Bucharest would work with Ukraine over the next 30 days on a grain export control plan to help protect Romanian farmers.

A World Trade Organisation spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that Ukraine had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body.

He did not name the countries although Kyiv has previously said the complaint targeted Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Also on Tuesday, Ukraine said it would impose retaliatory import curbs on certain goods from Poland and Hungary if they did not lift their unilateral bans, drawing a response from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

“I warn the Ukrainian authorities, because if they escalate this conflict in this way, we will add more products to the ban on import into the territory of the Republic of Poland,” Morawiecki told Polsat News.