The Polish leader has stated that Poland has ceased the shipment of weapons to Ukraine, as the trade dispute intensifies.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland‘s prime minister said his country is no longer sending arms to Ukraine as a trade dispute between the neighboring states escalates and his populist party faces pressure from the far right in the upcoming national election.
In a recent television interview, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that Poland has ceased the transfer of weapons to Ukraine. This decision comes as Poland focuses on arming itself with advanced weaponry through a military modernization plan, driven by concerns of Russian aggression in the region. The Prime Minister did not provide further details or clarify the relationship between these two actions.
On Thursday, Piotr Mueller, a government spokesperson, stated that the country is currently only delivering the ammunition and armaments that were previously agreed upon. Mueller mentioned that there have been a number of statements and diplomatic actions from the Ukrainian side that are considered completely unacceptable.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser of the White House, expressed his belief that Poland will remain a supporter of Ukraine.
“When I read the news this morning, I naturally felt worried and had some inquiries. However, I later witnessed the Polish government spokesperson addressing the issue and stating that Poland’s support for Ukraine, including the supply of equipment like Polish-manufactured Howitzers, is ongoing. Therefore, Poland remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine,” Sullivan commented during a press conference when questioned about the situation.
Poland has supplied Ukraine with a wide range of weaponry, including Leopard 2 tanks and Soviet-era MiG fighter jets. Poles are still largely in favor of supporting Ukraine, believing their nation would be vulnerable if Russia were to prevail just across the border. But there is also a growing weariness in society with the large numbers of refugees.
The far-right Confederation party has expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of appreciation Poland receives for providing weapons to Ukraine and accepting Ukrainian refugees. Tensions have escalated recently due to the decision made by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia to impose a ban on Ukrainian grain imports. The ban is justified as a measure to safeguard their own farmers.
The Polish-Ukrainian spat comes as Ukraine forces are making slow progress breaking through Russian battle lines in a counteroffensive that has not moved as quickly or as well as initially hoped and Poland‘s move could have wider fallout as another winter of fighting approaches. Kyiv’s leaders are lobbying for a new round of advanced weapons, including longer-range missiles.
Last weekend, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the U.S. Army, expressed that there is an ongoing requirement for additional weaponry and equipment in Ukraine. He also mentioned that allies and partners are actively seeking solutions to address this matter.
However, there is a growing fatigue among certain American voters regarding their support for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s upcoming visit to Washington coincides with a divergence of opinions among Republican leaders in Congress regarding the provision of additional military and humanitarian assistance to the country.
Michal Baranowski, an esteemed expert in security and defense, expressed that Poland has already provided the majority of its available resources during the early stages of the war. As there are no immediate plans for significant equipment shipments, he does not perceive a current threat to Ukraine’s capabilities. Nevertheless, he finds Morawiecki’s remarks concerning for Ukraine, as it strives to uphold Western support in the conflict initiated by Russia.
“I cannot reword”
Baranowski pointed out that Poland’s display of strength towards Kyiv should be interpreted within the framework of the election campaign. When Morawiecki mentioned that Poland would prioritize the modernization of its own forces, Baranowski acknowledged that Poland has the capacity to both upgrade its military and provide ongoing assistance to Ukraine.
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.”
Poland, Hungary and Slovakia said the new ban on Ukrainian grain imports was put in place to protect their farmers from a glut of Ukrainian grain in their markets, which lowers prices and hurts their livelihood. Kyiv responded with a complaint at the World Trade Organization against the three countries that sparked even more angry reactions from Poland.
On Thursday, the agriculture ministers of Poland and Ukraine expressed their commitment to finding a solution that considers the interests of both countries. In the meantime, Ukraine decided to withdraw its complaint against Slovakia as the two parties work towards a resolution, according to Slovak authorities.
On Tuesday, during the United Nations meeting, Zelenskyy implied that the nations opposing Ukraine’s grain exports were actually supporting Russia’s interests. On Wednesday, Poland promptly called for a meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador to express their grievances.
In an interview on private broadcaster Polsat, Morawiecki stated that the presence of a NATO and U.S. hub in Rzeszow, Poland, which is used for transporting weapons into Ukraine, would remain unaffected. He emphasized that the security of Ukraine would not be jeopardized.
The German Foreign Ministry stated that Ukraine still requires our complete assistance. It is crucial for Europe to take resolute and united action in this matter. Germany will provide humanitarian, political, economic, and military support to Ukraine for as long as it is necessary.
This report was contributed to by Seung Min Kim in Washington, Lorne Cook in Brussels, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, and Karel Janicek in Prague, all of whom are Associated Press writers.
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