Relations between Poland and Ukraine could potentially suffer as Poland considers reducing its support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. This follows a dispute over grain imports between the two neighboring countries. Warsaw’s minister for EU affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, expressed his firm stance on the matter and emphasized that Poland would not back down.
Szynkowski vel Sek argued that Ukraine’s resistance in the dispute “harms Ukraine itself” as it negatively influences Polish public opinion and consequently affects the level of support for military and economic assistance to Ukraine. While Poland wants to continue supporting Ukraine, the minister stressed the importance of public support, stating that it would be challenging for Poland to maintain its current level of support if it lacks backing from its own citizens.
Polish President Andrzej Duda echoed similar sentiments, urging Ukraine to remember that it receives help from Poland, especially as Poland serves as a significant transit country for Ukraine. These observations by Polish officials demonstrate the mounting strain on the relationship between the two countries.
The grain dispute between Poland and Ukraine traces back to May when the European Commission imposed restrictions on imports of certain Ukrainian agricultural products to safeguard local producers in the face of declining prices. Although Brussels lifted the embargo after Ukraine committed to tightening controls over its agricultural exports, Poland, along with Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, chose not to follow suit.
Bulgaria, however, made the decision to allow Ukrainian grain into the country, leading to mass protests by local farmers. In response, Ukraine filed a complaint against Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia with the World Trade Organization, deeming their actions “legally wrong.” Ukraine’s trade representative, Taras Kachka, also announced that Ukraine would impose an embargo on Polish onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and apples in the coming days.
Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus affirmed that Warsaw remains unworried about any consequences from the EU or the WTO regarding its imposition of an embargo on Ukraine. Telus dismissed Ukraine’s lawsuit as having “no legal basis,” indicating a firm determination by Poland to stand by its decision.
As tensions escalate over the grain dispute, the future of the relationship between Poland and Ukraine remains uncertain. The potential reduction in support from Poland may impact Ukraine’s ability to navigate its ongoing conflict with Russia effectively. It underscores the importance of resolving the grain dispute to maintain a positive and collaborative relationship between the two countries.