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Polish minister: Grain disputes undermine Polish public support for Ukraine aid

by Martin Fornusek September 20, 2023 8:26 PM 3 min read
Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk as Poland's Secretary of State for Polish Community Abroad, European Policy and Public Diplomacy during an EU General Affairs Council on March 21, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo credit: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Polish European Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said that Kyiv's steps in the ongoing grain import dispute undermine Polish public support for aid for Ukraine, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported on Sept. 20.

"Ukraine's actions do not impress us... but they make a certain impression on Polish public opinion. This can be seen... in the level of public support for continued aid for Ukraine," the official said.

"We would like to support Ukraine, but we must have the support of Polish citizens for this to be possible."

The minister indicated that it would be challenging to continue backing Ukraine to the same extent as Poland has done until now without the public's support.

Poland threatens further import bans, summons Ukrainian ambassador over grain dispute
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned that Warsaw may expand the list of banned Ukrainian goods if Kyiv imposes its own import embargo on certain Polish food products, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported on Sept. 20.

Ukraine's dispute with Poland, traditionally one of its most ardent supporters in its struggle against Russian aggression, was sparked by Warsaw's decision to extend the import ban on Ukrainian grain products past its expiration date set by the EU on Sept. 15.

The EU instituted the measure in May at the request of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, who feared that the influx of cheaper Ukrainian products would put pressure on their farmers.

In response to Poland's decision, Kyiv said it would sue Warsaw in the World Trade Organization and also threatened to introduce an embargo on onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and apples from Poland.

‎This Week in Ukraine: Ukrainian grain exports, and the mayhem they cause in Europe on Apple Podcasts
‎Show This Week in Ukraine, Ep Ukrainian grain exports, and the mayhem they cause in Europe - May 5, 2023

Polish Prime Minister responded that if Ukraine imposes such restrictions, his country will extend the import ban on further products.

During his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called out the "alarming" behavior of Ukraine's partners regarding the grain import bans.

While not naming specific countries, the statement came shortly after Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia said they would prolong the import restrictions.

In protest to Zelensky's statement at the U.N. headquarters, the Polish government also summoned Ukraine's Ambassador to Poland Vasyl Zvarych, PAP reported.

Slovakia and Hungary joined Poland in extending the ban, while Romania prolonged it for 30 days until it can clear out precise licensing rules on grain imports.

The Bulgarian Parliament voted against the prolongation. However, Sofia asked Kyiv to withhold the shipments until the licensing regime can be fully clarified.

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