Poland, a staunch ally of Ukraine, has announced a halt to weapons supplies for the war-torn country as a row over the export and import of grain spills over.
This move comes at a time when tensions between the two neighbouring countries are high. Warsaw recently summoned Ukraine’s ambassador in response to remarks made by President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations.
This was following the renewal of a restriction on Ukrainian grain exports by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Poland’s major focus, according to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, has now moved to securing the country’s own defence amid a substantial military modernisation push.
Poland has supplied Ukraine with hundreds of Soviet-era tanks and squads of MiG-29 fighter jets.
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Mr Morawiecki also delivered a televised statement, marking a further escalation of the apparent deepening rift.
Poland’s Prime Minister said: “I am warning Ukraine’s authorities, because if they are to escalate the conflict like that, we will add additional products to the ban on imports into Poland.
“Ukrainian authorities do not understand the degree to which Poland’s farming industry has been destabilised. We are protecting Polish farmers.”
Meanwhile, there is growing concern that Ukraine may lose military aid from another of its staunch friends.
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Slovakia, another staunch Ukraine supporter, may see a big shift in its ties with Kyov if populist former Prime Minister Robert Fico emerges as the frontrunner in the next national elections.
During a recent political rally, Fico pledged that if he wins the election, he will end Slovakia’s supply of armaments to Kyiv.
Mr Fico said: “We are a peaceful country, we will not send a single round to Ukraine.”
Mr Fico added: “They will have to sit down anyway and find an agreement. Russia will never leave Crimea, never leave the territories that it controls.”
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The grain dispute arose when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine effectively shut the key Black Sea shipping routes, forcing Ukraine to seek other land-based delivery routes. As a result, large amounts of grain made their way into Central Europe.
The European Union responded with a temporary ban on grain imports into five European Union member countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
This act was designed to protect the interests of local farmers who were concerned that Ukrainian grain was driving down local prices.
The embargo came to an end on September 15, and the EU decided not to extend it. However, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland have decided to keep the ban in place.
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