New Polish foreign minister visits Kyiv on first overseas trip, pledging continued support for Ukraine

The foreign minister in Poland’s new government, Radosław Sikorski, has visited Kyiv in his first overseas trip since taking office last week. He pledged that Poland would continue to support its eastern neighbour in defending itself from Russia’s “colonial war”.

As Sikorski started a press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, air-raid sirens began to sound in the background. “The alarm you can hear is the reason I’m here,” said the Polish minister.

“It is completely unacceptable for a country to attack its neighbour under any pretext and bomb cities, destroy entire provinces, deport children and prepare to annihilate a neighbour who has done nothing wrong,” he continued, quoted by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Wyjątkowe nagranie z Kijowa.

Alarm przeciwlotniczy rozpoczął konferencję prasową ministrów spraw zagranicznych – Ukrainy 🇺🇦@DmytroKuleba i Polski 🇵🇱 @sikorskiradek.

Minister Sikorski na tle dźwięku syren wyjaśnia dlaczego przyjechał na Ukrainę.

— Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych RP 🇵🇱 (@MSZ_RP) December 22, 2023

“Ukraine is a free nation that wants to live in democracy, in peace, that wants to decide for itself, and has chosen a European direction, towards the West,” he added. “In this titanic work, minister [Kuleba], Poland is on your side.”

Kuleba said that his talks with Sikorski were “very pleasant” and “there is full understanding that there will be a mutually beneficial, serious dialogue between the new Polish government and Ukraine”.

“Poland has supported Ukraine in the most difficult period and this will not change; it maintains its support,” he added. “Our common interest is the defeat of Russian aggression and the victory of Ukraine. I would like every Polish family to know that we Ukrainians are extremely grateful for the help.”

💬 FM @sikorskiradek’s message is clear: Poland’s strategic interest is for Vladimir Putin to fail in its war aims in Ukraine 🇺🇦, and we will do everything to make this happen. The minister is preparing and will present an aid package for 🇺🇦.

| 🇵🇱 MFA spokesperson Paweł Wroński

— Ministry of Foreign Affairs 🇵🇱 (@PolandMFA) December 22, 2023

Under the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government – which was removed from office last week after losing its majority in parliamentary elections in October – Poland was one of Ukraine’s closest allies. However, those relations frayed somewhat this year amid trade disputes, especially grain imports.

Sikorski assured Ukraine that the change in government would not see any reduction in support. “We in Poland believe that the result [of the war] should be that Russia should lose and Ukraine should win,” he declared. “And on this issue, regardless of who is in power, we are united.”

Polish foreign ministry spokesman Paweł Wroński announced today that Poland is preparing a new aid package for Ukraine.

However, Sikorski also told Kuleba that “we must restore conditions of fair competition in trade between both countries so that everyone benefits”. Polish truck drivers have since early November been blockading the border with Ukraine in protest at what they say is unfair competition from Ukrainian firms.

Min. @sikorskiradek rozmawiał z min. SZ🇺🇦 @DmytroKuleba, któremu pogratulował rozpoczęcia negocjacji akcesyjnych z UE.

💬Musimy przywrócić warunki uczciwej konkurencji w handlu między oboma krajami, tak by wszyscy na tym skorzystali.

| powiedział min. Sikorski podczas spotkania

— Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych RP 🇵🇱 (@MSZ_RP) December 22, 2023

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Main image credit: MSZ_RP/Twitter

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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