Poland no longer providing weapons to Ukraine, announces prime minister

Poland is no longer providing any weapons to Ukraine because it needs to focus on boosting its own defence capabilities, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced. His remarks come amid rising tensions between the two allies over grain exports.

“We are no longer providing any weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland,” Morawiecki told broadcaster Polsat. (His words could also be translated into English as “We have stopped providing weapons to Ukraine”).

“If you want to defend yourself, you must have something to defend yourself with,” added the prime minister, who did not specify when Poland had stopped supplying arms to Ukraine nor whether the decision was connected to the current dispute over grain.

📺 Premier @MorawieckiM w #GośćWydarzeń dla @PolsatNewsPL: Ukraina broni się przed bestialskim atakiem rosyjskim i rozumiem tą sytuację, jednak tak jak powiedziałem, będziemy chronić nasz kraj. My już nie przekazujemy uzbrojenia na 🇺🇦, ponieważ uzbrajamy teraz Polskę.

— Kancelaria Premiera (@PremierRP) September 20, 2023

Morawiecki emphasised, however, that Poland still wants to support Ukraine in defending itself from the “brutal Russian attack” it has suffered.

“Our hub in Rzeszów, in consultation with the Americans and NATO, still plays the same role it has played and will continue to play,” said the prime minister, referring to the eastern Polish city that has become the main international logistical hub for providing support to Ukraine.

“We will definitely maintain the transit of Ukrainian goods,” he added. “Poland does not incur any costs because of this. On the contrary, we can say that we make money from it.”

Ukraine has reacted angrily to a Polish official’s call for Kyiv to “start appreciating” Poland’s help.

An aide to President Zelensky said the comments are “treacherous” and serve Russia’s interests. The foreign ministry summoned Poland’s ambassador https://t.co/oV4CQ1o2Hx

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) August 1, 2023

But Morawiecki also condemned recent criticism from senior Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, of Poland’s decision to introduce a unilateral ban on Ukrainian grain imports after the EU let its own embargo expire.

“We perceive such words as unfair and we strongly reject them,” said the prime minister, referring to Zelensky’s comments at the UN this week that “some of our friends in Europe play out solidarity” while actually “setting the stage” for Russia.

Morawiecki said that it is in fact Zelensky’s remarks that have been “immediately picked up by so-called Russian trolls” who are “happy that the seed of discord has been sown between our countries”.

The prime minister emphasised that Poland is happy to support transit of grain through its territory but will not allow “Ukrainian oligarchs to rule the grain market in Poland” and caused “destabilisation”.

Amid an escalating trade row, Poland has summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to „strongly protest” remarks by President @ZelenskyyUa at the UN in which he said that „some of our friends in Europe play out solidarity” while actually „setting the stage” for Russia https://t.co/Rr7WI4USlW

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 20, 2023

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland has been one of Kyiv’s closest allies and main donors of military equipment, including providing hundreds of tanks – both Soviet-designed T-72s as well as more modern German-made Leopards.

According to the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine support tracker, Poland had provided Ukraine with military aid worth €3 billion by the end of July this year.

That was the sixth most of any country, behind the US (€42.1 billion), Germany (€17.1 billion), the UK (€6.6 billion), Norway (€3.7 billion) and Denmark (€3.5 billion).

In terms of overall support for Ukraine – including humanitarian and financial aid as well as refugee costs – Poland is behind only the US and Germany.

However, Poland has a smaller economy than those two countries. As a proportion of GDP, Poland has provided more support to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees than any other country, according to the Kiel Institute’s figures.

While Poland has strongly supported Ukraine, there have also been areas of tensions between the two allies. As well as grain exports, Warsaw and Kyiv have clashed over World War Two history, in particular the massacre of ethnic Poles by Ukrainian nationalists.

Last month, Ukraine reacted angrily to remarks from a senior Polish official who suggested that Kyiv should “start to appreciate” the help his country has provided during the war.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: KPRM (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)

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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