Poland stops supplying weapons to Ukraine

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Poland, one of the countries that most supports Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion a year and a half ago, stops supplying weapons to Kyiv in the midst of a dispute between both nations over the transit of Ukrainian grain, vetoed by Warsaw because it destabilizes prices and harms Polish farmers.

“We will no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared on private television Polsat News on Wednesday night. “We are mainly concentrating on the modernization and rapid rearmament of the Polish army, so that it becomes one of the most powerful land armies in Europe, and this will be in a very short time,” Morawiecki said.

The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, at a press conference in Warsaw, on July 5, 2023 (Kacker Pempel/REUTERS)

This deep rift illustrates the growing tensions between the two allies, at a key moment in the Ukrainian military counteroffensive against Russia, and contrasts with the formidable reception given by Poland to its territory to 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees, the vast majority of them women and children. It also occurs in the middle of the pre-campaign for the Polish elections, which will be held on October 15, after Morawiecki's party, the ultranationalist Law and Justice (PiS), aspires to continue in power. The rural vote may prove key to this.

Tension between Poland and Ukraine

The conflict over Ukrainian grain leads to a serious rift between the two allies at a key moment in Kyiv's military counteroffensive against the Russian invader

Prime Minister Morawiecki did not specify when Poland, one of the largest suppliers of weapons to Ukraine, stopped supplying them. He did confirm that the barracks located in the town of Rzeszow, in the southeast of the country, through which Western equipment transits bound for Ukraine, continues to function normally.

The announcement came a few hours after the Polish Foreign Ministry summoned, that same Wednesday, “urgently,” the Ukrainian ambassador to protest the words of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Tuesday before the UN General Assembly, in which Poland felt addressed. “It is worrying that some in Europe are playing the role of solidarity in a political theater, turning cereal into a thriller,” Zelensky said Tuesday. It seems like they are playing their own roles, but what they are doing is helping to set the stage for an actor from Moscow.”

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A dear stands by hay bales in a field in Czosnow, near Warsaw, Poland, Monday, Sept.18, 2023. Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, continue their ban on imports of Ukraine grain, saying it hurts the interests of their farmers . (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

In recent days, tension has grown between Warsaw and Kyiv over grain. Brussels announced on Friday the lifting of the veto on the entry of Ukrainian cereal, a measure granted last May to five countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria) to protect their farmers from the consequent destabilization of prices. As a result, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava immediately declared unilateral embargoes, to which Kyiv responded on Monday with a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned Wednesday that if Kyiv escalates the grain conflict, Poland will expand the list of banned Ukrainian products. The statement from Polish diplomacy states that “pressuring Poland in multilateral forums or sending complaints to international courts are not appropriate methods for resolving disputes between our countries.” After the call to its ambassador, Kyiv reacted by demanding a “constructive approach” to the dispute. “We ask our Polish friends to put aside emotions,” Ukrainian diplomatic spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 19, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

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