“We no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on social media.
Poland has long been one of Ukraine’s most staunch allies since Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor, alongside multiple former Eastern bloc nations who fear they could be next if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist war is successful.
Now the two allies are at loggerheads.
The ban on Ukrainian grain was initially put in place earlier this year by several European Union nations, to protect the livelihood of local farmers worried about being undercut by low prices of Ukrainian grain.
Last week, the EU announced plans to suspend the ban. But three nations – Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – said they intended to defy the change and keep the restrictions in place.
It prompted protests from Ukraine, which this week filed lawsuits against all three countries over the issue.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke out against the ban on Wednesday when addressing the UN General Assembly, saying “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.”
He added that the nations involved “may seem to play their own role but in fact they are helping set the stage to a Moscow actor.”
Zelensky’s comments sparked immediate condemnation from Poland, with the foreign ministry summoning the Ukrainian ambassador to Warsaw to convey their “strong protest.”
In a television interview, Prime Minister Morawiecki said he would not risk destabilizing the Polish market by accepting Ukrainian grain imports but would not prevent passage through Poland, Polish national news agency PAP reported.
“Of course we will maintain the transit of Ukrainian goods. Poland does not bear any costs due to that. On the contrary, it could be said that we earn from it,” Morawiecki said, according to PAP.
Morawiecki also accused Ukrainian oligarchs of having “pushed their grain onto the Polish market” without concern for local farmers, and said Poland will now focus on supplying “the most modern weapons” for its own purposes, PAP reported.
“If you want to defend yourself you have to have something to defend with,” Morawiecki said.