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Polish PM says no longer arms Ukraine, as Warsaw summons Ukrainian envoy over Zelensky’s remarks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his country will no longer supply Ukraine with weapons, as Warsaw has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador over comments by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations.

During his address to the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Zelensky complained that some countries were only pretending to support his nation as it wages a counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Poland, which has been one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters after Russia started its military operation in February last year, and one of Kiev’s main weapons suppliers, took offense at Zelensky’s comments.

“We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” Morawiecki told Polsat News on Wednesday.

Much of the weaponry that the United States and other countries send to Ukraine passes through Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor to the west.

Furthermore, Poland has housed around one million Ukrainian refugees, who have benefited from various kinds of state aid so far.

Ties between the two neighbors strained after Warsaw imposed a ban on Ukrainian grain imports, arguing that it seeks to protect its own farmers.  

Ukraine, which is a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil, used to export most of its crop yields through its main ports on the Black and Azov Seas, but the war has closed off pre-war Black Sea shipping lanes, resulting in the European Union becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.

Back in May, the European bloc agreed to limit Ukraine’s grain exports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia in an attempt to protect the countries' farmers, who blamed the imports for a slump in prices on local markets.

According to the measures, Ukraine’s grain kept transiting through the five countries but prevented them from being sold on the local market.

However, the European Commission on Friday announced that it was lifting the import ban, arguing that “the market distortions in the five member states bordering Ukraine have disappeared.”

Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia immediately voiced their strong opposition to the move.

Ukraine responded to warnings by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia by announcing that it would lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The grain issue is particularly of great importance for Morawiecki, whose populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.

“We were the first to do a lot for Ukraine and that's why we expect for them to understand our interests. Of course, we respect all of their problems, but for us, the interests of our farmers are the most important thing,” Morawiecki said.

Separately on Wednesday, Poland summoned Ukraine’s ambassador over Zelensky’s remarks at the UN, where he said that Kiev was working to preserve land routes for grain exports.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski “conveyed the Polish side's strong protest against the statements made by President V. Zelensky at the UN General Assembly yesterday, alleging that some EU countries feigned solidarity while indirectly supporting Russia,” said Poland's foreign ministry in a statement.

In response, Ukraine's foreign ministry called for calm in the dispute pitting Kiev against three of its neighbors over their ban on Ukrainian farm imports.

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