Poland and Ukraine: what’s behind the clash?
A remark by the Polish prime minister taken out of context has caused an international stir. In an interview, Mateusz Morawiecki said: "We are already no longer supplying arms to Ukraine, but are equipping ourselves with the most modern weapons." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted with sharp criticism. Europe’s press comments on the altercation in the context of the import bans on agricultural products and the election campaign in Poland.
More discretion needed
Postimees laments that this conflict is being played out on the global stage:
“Even if some of Morawiecki’s remarks were misquoted or allegedly misinterpreted, a public dispute with one of Ukraine’s most active supporters so far is very unfortunate. Nor was the UN General Assembly the best place for Ukraine to rebuke an ally. ... But under no circumstances should the Polish Prime Minister have made such a bold statement.”
Discrediting the country for a few votes
The PiS’s election campaign is damaging the entire country, Polityka laments:
“By releasing that one sentence into the airwaves, Morawiecki may have done more harm to Poland than the whole grain dispute so far. ... The PiS is toying with matters of strategic importance in this election campaign: defence plans, secrets that are a gift for foreign intelligence services. And it is also toying with the very risky issue of anti-Ukrainian resentment. And now we have exposed ourselves to the criticism of global public opinion — all for the sake of this party scoring a few points with its own supporters.”
Too much is being made of the dispute over grain and weapons, Echo24 believes:
“But that doesn’t mean the Ukrainians aren’t getting on the Poles’ nerves a little. ... Kyiv could definitely display a little more humility and prudent diplomacy. It was particularly foolish to start this dispute just a few weeks before the Polish elections, when the government in Warsaw can’t afford to give in for fear of looking weak. The Ukrainians seem to realise that they have gone too far and are beginning to shift gears. In the coming days there are plans to meet for negotiations over grain. And the Ukrainian ambassador in Warsaw said that no one in Ukraine wants to cause problems for Polish farmers.”
Kyiv’s prospects darkening
The dispute highlights long-term problems, Le Temps explains:
“No sooner had the threat to Ukraine been made than it was amended and toned down. It left too bad an impression. For now, at least, it seems unlikely that this escalation in Poland will in any way alter the course of the war in Ukraine. But perhaps the message lies elsewhere. The episode also shows how, beneath the appearance of a united Europe in the face of the Russian aggressor, national egoisms are lurking. In the face of a protracted war, this feverish outburst does not bode well for Ukraine’s full accession to the EU.”
Don’t fall for Putin’s tricks
The allies must not fall out over the grain issue, warns Pravda:
“It’s all right if we have reservations about Ukrainian grain exports. This is part of international politics and a legitimate topic of discussion. However, we must not forget who got us into this ‘embarrassing mess’. ... Putin is not only using energy as a weapon, but also grain. And with this weapon he is killing three birds with one stone: crippling the Ukrainian economy, destabilising the European market and damaging relations between the Western allies. But it’s up to us whether we fall for his tricks.”