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Poland supports Ukraine, but must protect its interests: president

21.09.2023 08:30
Poland is helping Ukraine fight Russia's invasion, but needs to protect the interests of its farmers and that’s why Warsaw has banned the import of Ukrainian grain, the Polish president has said.
Photo:X/Office of the President of Poland

Andrzej Duda made the remark in a media interview in New York on Wednesday.

The Polish president, who is making a visit to the United States to attend a series of United Nations meetings, told Polish state broadcaster TVP Info that “Polish authorities must above all protect Polish interests.”

He added: “And that’s what we’re doing. Right from the beginning, the assistance we have been sending to Ukraine, especially military assistance, was motivated by a concern for our security.”

Duda told TVP Info that “Poland wants Ukraine to survive” and had provided Kyiv with 300 tanks from its stocks, as well as 100 armoured personnel carriers.      

He noted that Poland had also supplied Ukraine with Polish-made Krab gun howitzers, which he said “enabled Ukraine to strike Russian forces at their rear.”

'The interests of our farmers are at stake'

The Polish president stated: “This assistance was enormous, but when it comes to the issue of grain, the interests of our farmers are at stake.”

He added: “When it comes to food, Poland is self-sufficient. We have our own grain. And so the influx of millions of tonnes of grain from Ukraine is unacceptable from our viewpoint.”

Duda stressed that the transit of Ukrainian grain through Poland remained allowed and “as a result this grain is being shipped to the world.”

Asked about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent remarks to the UN General Assembly, in which the Ukrainian leader suggested that Poland, Hungary and Slovakia were “making a thriller from the grain” issue, Duda replied that “Ukraine has received a lot of assistance and support from allies and neighbours.”

The Polish president said that by making such remarks at the UN, Zelensky had "gone too far,” the PAP news agency reported.

Duda also reiterated that “Polish authorities have a duty to guard the interests of Polish farmers and guard the interests of Poland.”

“And this is being done,” he concluded.

Poland bans import of grain from Ukraine

The Polish government on Friday night placed an embargo on the import of several agricultural products from Ukraine, including wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower.

Slovakia and Hungary have since introduced similar bans, according to reports.

These developments came after the EU’s executive Commission on Friday announced that it would not prolong the bloc's ban on the import of wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower and sunflower oil from Ukraine to Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

Poland has banned the import of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower, as well as related products, including rapeseed meal, until further notice, news outlets reported.

Meanwhile, the transit of these products through Poland to other countries, or to Poland’s seaports, remains allowed, according to officials. 

The Polish government said that “given the current market situation, the embargo is justified and is designed to help maintain Poland’s food security and public security.”

An influx of Ukrainian grain would “cause another crash on the Polish grain market,” and so the ban will “help prevent strikes and social unrest,” officials added.

On Monday, Ukraine’s Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko announced that Kyiv had filed a lawsuit against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia at the World Trade Organisation over the ban on food imports from the country.

“It is crucially important for us to prove that individual [EU] member states cannot ban imports of Ukrainian goods,” Svyrydenko said in a statement. “That is why we are filing lawsuits against them.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Thursday is day 575 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP