A trade dispute between Poland and Ukraine over the price of grain has led to contradictory comments from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki about his nation’s support for its embattled neighbor.
“We no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland,” Morawiecki said Wednesday, according to CNN.
Morawiecki said Poland will be securing “the most modern weapons” for its own armed forces.
“If you want to defend yourself you have to have something to defend with,” he said.
On Thursday, Morawiecki explained that “we will certainly not risk Ukraine’s security,” and that the city of Rzeszow, a major hub for getting weapons into Ukraine, “still plays the same role it has played and will continue to play,” according to The New York Times.
The Times wrote that the “contradictory remarks appeared to be part of a pre-election push by the governing party to reassure voters that it will not put Ukraine’s interests ahead of Polish citizens, and especially farmers, who are angry over low prices for their produce that they blame on an influx of cheap Ukrainian grain.”
CNN noted that as Oct. 15 elections approach, the ruling Law and Justice Party is sagging in eastern Poland, a strong agriculture area. Eastern Poland voters are turning to the Confederation party, CNN reported, which has been complaining that the current Polish government has been putting the welfare of Ukraine ahead of that of Poland.
The roots of the rift are in European policies on Ukrainian grain. After the European Commission allowed Ukraine to export grain without certain duties, which made it cheaper than grain from other nations, several European Union nations banned Ukrainian grain to protect their own farmers.
That ban is going away, but Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have now put their own ban in place, drawing a protest from Ukraine to the World Trade Organization that led to increased anger in Poland.
Into that mass of hard feelings, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy added fuel to the flame with comments to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
Zelenskyy said that “it is alarming to see how some in Europe, some of our friends in Europe, play out solidarity in a political theater – making a thriller from the grain.”
Without naming names, he said the countries “may seem to play their own role but in fact they are helping set the stage to a Moscow actor.” Poland condemned the comment. Its foreign ministry summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to issue a “strong protest.”
“I am grateful to the Polish people, Polish society. That’s all,” said the President of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/AQosnoXvfA
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 21, 2023
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan sought to downplay the spat between neighbors.
“Poland will continue to be a supporter of Ukraine,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
“When I read the headlines this morning, I was of course concerned and had questions, but I’ve subsequently seen the Polish government spokesman come out to clarify that in fact Poland’s provision of equipment, including things like Polish-manufactured Howitzers, is continuing and that Poland continues to stand behind Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
Donald Tusk, a Polish political opposition leader, accused Morawiecki and others 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.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.