Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

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WARSAW — Poland, considered one of Ukraine’s staunchest backers within the struggle in opposition to Russia’s invasion, stated it was halting new weapons shipments to Kyiv, as tensions over grain exports continued to escalate between Ukraine and its Central European neighbors.

“We’re not transferring any weapons, as a result of we’ll now arm ourselves with probably the most trendy weapons,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated in a Wednesday night interview with Polsat Information.

Poland will solely fulfill current contracts and ship beforehand agreed-upon provides of weapons, Polish authorities spokesman Piotr Müller clarified to the Polish Press Company on Thursday, saying that included Polish-made Howitzers. He cited “completely unacceptable statements and public gestures” by Ukraine within the resolution.

However Poland appeared to aim to ease tensions later Thursday, as President Andrzej Duda known as for calm and warned in opposition to an “over-interpretation” of the prime minister’s feedback. He stated Morawiecki meant that Poland wouldn’t switch new weapons from the shares it had bought from international locations comparable to the USA and South Korea. Chatting with Polish reporters on the U.N. Common Meeting in New York, he stated it was nonetheless attainable that weapons from outdated military shares might be transferred to Kyiv “simply as we have now accomplished earlier than.”

Russia has focused Ukraine’s important agricultural sector, disrupting transit routes within the Black Sea and repeatedly bombing the nation’s grain infrastructure. That has left Ukraine determined for different export routes, nevertheless it additionally prompted Poland and different neighboring international locations to hunt to guard their farmers from a market flooded with low-cost Ukrainian grain.

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia stated final week they might hold in place a ban on the import of Ukrainian grain merchandise as an settlement with the European Union expired.

For Poland, the top of the E.U.-sanctioned embargo occurred only a month forward of elections, wherein the right-wing populist Legislation and Justice social gathering is battling to remain in energy. The social gathering presents itself because the champion of Polish farmers and had amped up rhetoric in opposition to the E.U. at marketing campaign occasions, promising to guard Polish grain producers.

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Ukrainian officers pledged this week to take authorized motion in opposition to Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to overturn the ban, although Kyiv’s possibilities of reaching a fast treatment appeared just about nonexistent.

The more and more bitter dispute has upended the connection between Ukraine and considered one of its strongest backers. Poland is the sixth-biggest navy donor to Ukraine, in response to the Kiel Institute for the World Financial system, and it has taken in additional than 1.5 million refugees.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky precipitated fury in Warsaw on Tuesday when, throughout his speech to the U.N. Common Meeting in New York, he insinuated that Poland was enjoying into the arms of Russia. He accused “some in Europe” of feigning solidarity in “political theater” and making a “thriller from the grain.”

“They might appear to play their very own position, however actually, they’re serving to set the stage to a Moscow actor,” Zelensky stated.

Poland summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in Warsaw on Wednesday in response to the feedback.

Chatting with Polsat, Morawiecki condemned Zelensky’s “very sturdy phrases,” which he stated Poland “essentially” rejects.

“We ship phrases of warning to Kyiv to not play such notes, which had been actually instantly picked up on in Poland by the so-called Russian trolls,” he stated.

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Given Poland’s assist for Ukraine, together with by lobbying Germany to ship arms, such phrases are “doubly unfair,” Morawiecki stated. Talks between Ukraine and Poland are ongoing, however the pursuits of Polish farmers “will definitely all the time be a very powerful to me,” he stated.

On Thursday, the Polish Embassy in Washington elaborated on the federal government’s place with a nine-point assertion, concluding that whereas Poland continues to assist the start of negotiations over Ukraine’s membership within the E.U., these talks “might want to take note of Polish pursuits.”

The struggle between Warsaw and Kyiv demonstrates that Moscow has achieved some success with its brutal and sustained assaults on Ukraine’s agriculture sector.

Morawiecki’s Legislation and Justice social gathering counts the agricultural areas alongside the border with Ukraine as its heartland of assist and is battling forward of subsequent month’s elections to keep up the backing of voters there, together with those that have been contemplating the intense right-wing Konfederacja social gathering, recognized for its anti-Ukraine rhetoric.

Like Poland, Slovakia is going through a hard-fought election, with voters there going to the polls Sept. 30. Appeasing farmers is seen as key to maintaining populist former prime minister Robert Fico from returning to energy.

Slovakia and Ukraine reached settlement on a brand new licensing system for buying and selling in grain throughout a web based assembly between the 2 international locations’ agricultural ministers Wednesday, the Slovak authorities confirmed Thursday. The nation’s ban on Ukrainian grain will proceed “till this technique is launched and its full operation is examined,” the agricultural ministry stated, with out giving a timeline.

Ukraine additionally agreed to halt its authorized motion in opposition to Slovakia throughout the World Commerce Group and drop threats for reciprocal bans on Slovak merchandise.

Whereas many farmers have decried the imports of low cost Ukrainian grain and assist a ban, consultants have questioned the affect of an embargo provided that costs are extra intently linked to international market fluctuations than native situations.

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When it determined to not prolong the import restrictions final week, the European Fee stated “market distortions” attributable to Ukrainian imports had disappeared.

On Thursday, a senior U.S. authorities official performed down the rift, casting it as a heat-of-the-moment little bit of electioneering.

“I do know some of us really feel just like the prime minister’s remarks perhaps had been a mirrored image that the unity is lastly cracking, and I simply don’t see any proof of that at each stage,” the official stated, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate diplomatic relations. “All through the paperwork in Poland, we noticed a agency dedication to remain the course. They see no different.”

Morawiecki’s remarks, the official continued, are a “reflection that on the finish of the day, we’re all human and there are moments of rigidity and there could be frustration on all sides, however that doesn’t imply that there’s going to be some dramatic shift in alliance unity and even Poland’s basic place and dedication to assist Ukraine for so long as it takes.”

“Every nation that’s contributing to Ukraine has its personal home politics. And that’s simply the truth,” the official stated.

Rauhala reported from Brussels. Niha Masih in Seoul, Victoria Bisset in London and Anastacia Galouchka in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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