Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Volodymyr Zelensky not to “insult the Poles again” after the Ukrainian president revealed his neighbor’s disputes over his grain exports.
The Polish leader fired back at Zelenskiy after the Ukrainian leader made a veiled criticism of Poland at the United Nations General Assembly this week, saying the dispute was “political drama” and that “some of our friends in Europe” had “created a thrill”. from grain.”
On Friday, Morawiecki fired back at a rally in Swidnik, Poland.
“I want to tell President Zelenskiy never again to insult Poland, as he did during his speech at the UN recently,” he said.
“The Polish people will never allow this, and protecting the good name of Poland is not only my duty and honor, but the most important task of the Polish government,” the Polish prime minister added.
Morawiecki’s comments risk deepening divisions between the two countries, which have been close allies united against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Tensions have been rising between them in recent weeks over an embargo on Ukrainian grain, launched earlier this year by several EU countries to protect the livelihoods of local farmers hit by low prices for Ukrainian grain.
The EU announced plans to suspend the ban last week, but Poland – along with Hungary and Slovakia – said it would stick with it, prompting protests from Ukraine, which filed lawsuits against the three countries, and later, Zelensky’s comments at the UN.
Poland immediately condemned Zelenskiy’s comments at the UN and its foreign ministry summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express its “strong opposition”. Hours later, the Polish prime minister said in a blunt social media statement, “Just because we are now arming Poland, we will not transfer arms to Ukraine.”
This seemed to mark a major shift in policy: until now, Poland had been one of the most visible countries in the race to get arms and resources into Ukrainian hands.
But Polish President Andrzej Duda hit back on Thursday, saying his prime minister had “interpreted the comments in a very bad way”.
Morawiecki, he said, was referring to new weapons purchased for the Polish military, and old weapons that Warsaw deems unnecessary to modernize its own military could still be sent across the border.
Poland has long been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, with many former Eastern bloc countries fearing they could be next if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of expansion succeeds.
Poland sent fighter jets to its border months ahead of the United States, which agreed last month to approve the replacement of F-16s pending the completion of training of Ukrainian forces.
It has sent more than 200 Soviet-style tanks to Ukraine.
According to the United Nations, most Western military equipment and other goods come to Ukraine through Poland.
According to the Kiel Institute’s tracker of how much countries have donated to Ukraine, Poland has pledged 4.27 billion euros (about $4.54 billion) in a mix of military, financial and humanitarian aid.