A Polish MP, Krzysztof Bosak, made a bold political statement on Tuesday by issuing a ‘bill’ for $23 billion to the Ukrainian embassy. The move was intended as a response to Ukraine’s lawsuit against Poland for imposing a ban on grain imports from the country. Bosak, a member of the right-wing Confederation Liberty and Independence bloc in the Polish parliament, listed various forms of assistance provided to Ukraine by the Polish government, including social benefits for Ukrainian refugees and private donations from Polish nationals. The total amount was calculated by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, although Bosak believes it is “significantly underestimated and incomplete”.
The ban on Ukrainian grain imports was initially prohibited by the European Union, but the temporary restrictions expired earlier this month. In response, Poland opted to introduce a national ban, citing the need to protect Polish farmers from competition with Ukraine. This decision has led to Ukraine suing Poland before the World Trade Organization (WTO) and threatening to introduce trade restrictions of their own.
The political tension between the two countries was further heightened when Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky made remarks during a speech at the UN General Assembly, implying that some European nations publicly supporting Ukraine were indirectly assisting Russia. Poland, alongside Hungary and Slovakia, felt snubbed by these remarks, and the Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the Ukrainian Ambassador to protest the “unjustified” remark. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also announced that Poland would no longer send weapons to Ukraine, prioritizing its own military modernization instead.
The political bloc to which Krzysztof Bosak belongs, the Confederation Liberty and Independence bloc, will be competing with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party for nationalist votes in the upcoming general election. The bloc has criticized the government for its friendly stance towards Ukraine, arguing that the policy has backfired amidst Ukraine’s armed conflict with Russia. Bosak emphasized the need to play tough, like the Ukrainian oligarchs do, at a press conference.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is reportedly considering taking the side of the EU member states in the WTO case. Despite initially demanding a reversal of the grain bans, the Commission is now seeking to “coordinate” the legal rebuttals of Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. This suggests that Brussels may support the actions of these countries.
The ongoing dispute between Poland and Ukraine over the grain ban highlights the complexities of international trade relations and political tensions among neighboring countries. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the issue will be resolved and the impact it will have on the broader diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries.