Poland has announced it will cease its weapon supplies to Ukraine, although it hasn't dismissed potential future deliveries. This decision emerges amidst escalating tensions over a grain import ban with Kyiv.
In February 2023, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal oversaw the delivery of the first batch of Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Poland has been a crucial conduit for weapon deliveries to Ukraine and has also provided arms independently.
On Wednesday, Morawiecki declared that Poland would shift its focus to its own defense, stating, "We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons." He added that while Ukraine defends itself against Russia, Poland must prioritize its own defense.
This announcement followed a summoning of Kyiv's ambassador to Poland due to a growing disagreement over grain exports.
Jacek Sasin, Poland's state assets minister, confirmed the halt in weapon supplies but hinted at possible future deliveries. Piotr Muller, a government spokesperson, clarified that Poland would fulfill previously agreed weapon deliveries. Muller highlighted Poland's consistent support for Ukraine since the onset of the Russian invasion.
Polish officials have defended their decision, emphasizing Poland's swift response in aiding Ukraine compared to other nations. The US also weighed in, suggesting that while tensions might arise, it doesn't foresee a significant shift in alliance unity or Poland's commitment to supporting Ukraine.
The backdrop to this decision includes a recent summoning of Ukraine's ambassador to Poland after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's comments at the United Nations General Assembly about grain exports. Zelenskyy hinted that some countries only pretended to stand in solidarity with Ukraine, a statement Poland found unjustified.
Poland's significant role in supporting Ukraine is evident through its supply of military equipment, such as MiG-29s and Leopard tanks, and facilitating the transport of arms from other nations into Ukraine via its borders.
The grain import ban dispute has further strained relations between Poland and Ukraine. The Russian invasion disrupted Black Sea shipping routes, making the EU a crucial transit for Ukrainian grain. The EU had restricted imports to several countries, including Poland, to safeguard their local farmers. However, the European Commission recently decided to lift this ban, leading to disagreements among member states and a potential complaint by Ukraine to the World Trade Organization.