‘No longer transferring weapons to Ukraine’ says Poland PM amid grain import crisis

Move after Ukrainian Prez Zelenskyy criticised Warsaw’s ban on grain imports

Leopard 2 tank (File) A Leopard 2 tank | AP

Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the country is no longer supplying weapons to Ukraine and it is going to focus on strengthening its own defence systems following a row with Ukraine on grain imports.

The Guardian quoted Morawiecki as saying, “We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons.” Poland was a staunch supporter of Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Poland was one the pioneers to supply weapons to Ukraine and it was also part of a bloc of Western allies, formed to supply weapons to Ukraine. However, Poland clarified that it would fulfil earlier commitments of arms and ammunition supply for Ukraine. 

According to reports, Poland’s ruling far-right party feels that the country is not getting the gratitude it deserves for supporting Ukraine and accepting its refugees.

Morawiecki made the comments during an interview with a private television broadcaster Polsat. The Poland prime minister also talked about military modernisation plans, spurred by Russian aggression in the region.

A government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, appeared to confirm Thursday that Warsaw would not agree to more military aid. He said the country was now only providing supplies of ammunition and armaments that had previously been agreed to, noting that "a series of absolutely unacceptable statements and diplomatic gestures appeared on the Ukrainian side."

The grain row escalated after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the UN against the import ban. “It’s alarming to see how some in Europe play out solidarity in a political theatre – making a thriller from the grain. They may seem to play their own role, but in fact, they are helping set the stage to a Moscow actor,” The Guardian quoted him as saying. 

Following Zelenskyy’s comments, Warsaw summoned Ukraine’s ambassador and warned of retaliatory moves.

Poland has supplied Ukraine with a wide range of weaponry, including Leopard 2 tanks and Soviet-era MiG fighter jets.

Donald Tusk, a top opposition leader, accused Morawiecki and other ruling authorities of a moral and geopolitical scandal of stabbing Ukraine in the back politically when they decide to fight on the Ukrainian front, just because it will be profitable for their campaign.

Emotions have been running high after Poland, Hungary and Slovakia last week announced a new ban on Ukrainian grain imports, saying they wanted to protect their farmers from a glut of Ukrainian grain in their markets. The grain lowers prices for local farmers and hurts their livelihood. Kyiv responded with a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against the three countries that sparked even more angry reactions from Poland.

Ukraine was lifting its complaint against Slovakia as the two sides sought a resolution, Slovak authorities said Thursday.

He said a NATO and US hub in the Polish city of Rzeszow used for transporting weapons into Ukraine would not be affected. “We are not going to risk the security of Ukraine,” he said.

A senior US government official told reporters in Brussels on Thursday that the US does not view Morawiecki's statements as a sign of Western unity cracking and expects to see continued leadership from Poland in the effort to help Ukraine.

The official noted that each country that's contributing to Ukraine has its own domestic politics and that's just a reality. “Some of these countries are in the middle of election cycles, so they're also in the middle of messaging their publics."The official requested anonymity to brief reporters frankly on the sensitive development.

The German Foreign Ministry said Thursday that "we have taken note of the statement from the Polish side". The ministry added that Ukraine "continues to need our full support". “It is important that we in Europe act decisively and in solidarity in this regard. Germany will support Ukraine humanely, politically, economically and with weapons for as long as it needs us,” it said.

(With PTI inputs.)

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