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1 Aug, 2023 18:01

Ukraine-Poland rift sees ambassador summoned

A presidential administration official in Warsaw said Ukraine should “appreciate” the aid it receives more amid a row over grain
Ukraine-Poland rift sees ambassador summoned

Ukraine’s foreign ministry summoned the Polish ambassador, Bartosz Cichocki, on Tuesday over what it called “unacceptable” remarks by a high-ranking official in Warsaw. The scandal concerns the head of the international policy bureau within the Polish presidential administration, Marcin Przydacz, who called on Ukraine to be more grateful to its neighbor for assistance.

Politics “should not call into question mutual understanding” Kiev said in a statement. It dismissed claims “about the alleged ingratitude of Ukrainians” as “untrue.”

In his comments, Przydacz had defended a ban on Ukrainian grain imports to Poland. Speaking to the Polish broadcaster TVP, he said “it would be fitting for Ukraine to start appreciating the role Poland has played for Ukraine over the recent months and years.”

The policy bureau chief also insisted that Polish farmers’ interests come first, particularly during harvest time. “As for Ukraine, it really got a lot of support from Poland,” he added.

The interview immediately drew an angry reaction from Kiev. Andrey Sibiga, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s administration, slammed what he called attempts by some Polish politicians to spread “unfounded claims” that Ukraine does not appreciate Warsaw’s help.

It is “obvious” that the views were expressed in pursuit of someone’s “opportunistic interests,” Sibiga said in a strong statement on Facebook on Monday.

The EU initially lifted tariffs and quotas for Ukrainian exports in a bid to support the country in its armed conflict with Russia. Cheaper Ukrainian foodstuffs then flooded the bloc’s common market, sparking protests among the Eastern European farmers. Five EU nations imposed unilateral restrictions on the incoming grain before the EU conceded to their demands and imposed an official ban.

The development soured relations between Kiev and Warsaw. Last week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky blasted the ban as “un-European” and called on Brussels to let it expire on September 15. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal also specifically criticized Poland’s stance, calling its position “unfriendly and populist.”

Polish Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski brushed off the criticism, pointing to his country’s extensive assistance to Ukraine. He also said that Poland was guided by its own interests, including when it comes to helping Kiev.