Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the Ukrainian president of insulting Poles in his speech to the United Nations this week.
The Polish Prime Minister has asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky never to “insult” Poles again, returning to harsh rhetoric towards Kiev after the Polish leader sought to defuse the simmering dispute between the two countries over the issue of Ukrainian grain imports.
Zelensky angered his neighbors in Warsaw – a key military ally against Russia – when he told the UN General Assembly in New York this week that Kiev was working to maintain land routes for its grain exports amid the Russian blockade of the Black Sea, but this was “political theater” around imports. Grain helps Moscow’s cause.
Last week, Poland extended a ban on Ukrainian grain imports in a unilateral move that contradicts the European Union ruling. The move shook Kiev’s relationship with Warsaw, which has been seen as one of its strongest allies since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
“I want to tell President Zelenskiy never to insult Poles again, as he recently did during his speech at the United Nations,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a campaign rally on Friday, according to the state news agency.
Earlier on Friday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the dispute between Poland and Ukraine over grain imports would not significantly affect good bilateral relations, in an apparent move to ease tensions.
“I have no doubt that the dispute over the supply of grain from Ukraine to the Polish market is an absolute part of the entire Polish-Ukrainian relations,” Duda said at a business conference. “I don’t think it can have much impact on them, so we need to resolve this matter between us.”
Duda’s comment came after Prime Minister Morawiecki was quoted as saying that Poland would no longer send weapons to Ukraine amid the grain dispute.
“We no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” Morawiecki said on Wednesday, according to a local media report.
Poland is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on October 15, and Morawiecki’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party has come under criticism from the far right for what it says is the government’s submissive stance to Kiev.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said in an article published by Politico newspaper that Poland wants to see “a strong Ukrainian state emerge from this war with a vibrant economy,” and that Warsaw “will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO and the European Union.”
However, speaking to reporters in New York, Rao said that although Poland had not changed its policy towards Ukraine, there had been a “radical change in Polish public opinion’s perception” of the relationship between the two countries.
Asked by PAP what would be needed to improve this perception, Rao said fixing the atmosphere would require a “huge” diplomatic effort.
Slovakia, Poland and Hungary imposed national restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after the European Union executive decided not to extend the ban on imports to those countries as well as fellow EU members Bulgaria and Romania.
These countries have claimed that cheap Ukrainian agricultural goods – originally intended to transit west and to ports – are sold domestically, harming their farmers.
Speaking in Canada on Friday, Zelensky made no reference to tensions with Poland, but said that when Ukraine lacked support, Russia became stronger.
“You are helping either Ukraine or Russia. There will be no mediators in this war. By weakening aid to Ukraine, you will strengthen Russia,” Zelensky told reporters after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“A strong Russia and what can be expected from it… I believe that history in books and witnesses has long ago answered this question. “If someone wants to take a risk, that’s fine, and weaken the assistance provided to the Ukrainians.” Website of the Ukrainian President.
He added: “To be frank and honest, we must fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.”
The Kremlin said on Friday that it is closely monitoring the situation between Kiev and Warsaw, adding that tensions will inevitably rise between Kiev and its European allies as the grain dispute escalates.
We expect these frictions between Warsaw and Kiev to increase. Friction between Kiev and other European capitals will increase over time. “This is inevitable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“We are of course monitoring this closely,” Peskov said, describing Kiev and Warsaw as “the two main centers” of Russophobia.
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