Poland is asking Ukraine to “commit suicide” with its request for Kyiv to accept European Union import restrictions on Ukrainian grain, a senior official within the Zelensky administration has claimed.
Ukrainian deputy chief of staff Andriy Sibiga has accused Poland of pursuing its own “self-interest” over the welfare of its neighbour by trying to get previous EU controls on Ukrainian grain reinstated.
“In these extraordinary circumstances, putting Ukraine under pressure to accept Poland’s embargo on Ukrainian food produce is asking us to commit suicide in return for help,” he said.
The senior Ukrainian official was responding to comments made by a high-ranking Polish official that certain restrictions are now needed in order to protect the country’s farmers.
Marcin Przydacz — the Polish President Andrzej Duda’s chief of staff — argued that Ukraine should be willing to accept the restrictions as thanks for the support Poland has provided the invaded country with.
“It would be good if it started to value all the help it has received from Poland,” Przydacz remarked.
The suggestion that Ukraine was ungrateful for the aid it received went down poorly with Sibiga, who described attempts to leverage Polish aid for such purposes as effectively being “a betrayal” of the Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs has since summoned the Polish ambassador Bartosz Cichocki over the remarks made by Przydacz.
During the meeting the ambassador was told that Przydacz’s remarks on “Ukrainian ingratitude” were “unacceptable”. In response late on the same day the Polish foreign ministry requested that the Ukrainian ambassador should meet the ministry to discuss statements made by Ukrainian officials.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki later expressed frustration regarding the spat on Twitter, criticising the Ukrainian Government for dressing-down officials belonging to his country despite it being one of the few Western states that kept representatives “in Kyiv on the day of Russia’s invasion”.
“This should not be happening when the international community is facing war and given the enormous support Poland has given Ukraine. Such mistakes should not be made,” he said.
“We will defend Poland’s good name, our security and will not allow for the interests of any country to override those of Poland.”
The war of words comes as Warsaw lobbies the European Commission to extend the embargo on Ukrainian grain entering the Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian markets until the end of the year.
The current ban is due to end on September 15, with Ukraine pushing for it to be scrapped and that it be allowed to freely sell its produce across all EU markets.
Poland’s position in the dispute is that it had originally supported opening up the EU to Ukrainian grain in response to problems the country was having with exporting its produce via the Black Sea.
The understanding was that the grain would transit through Polish ports and then onto Africa and the Middle East.
Instead, Ukrainian grain kept pouring into Poland, remaining in the country despite initial plans for the produce to be shipped elsewhere.
This enraged Polish grain farmers and led to the resignation of Poland’s minister of agriculture this Spring.
It also spurred Poland to impose a unilateral grain embargo on Ukraine, which was later turned into an EU embargo involving the five Member States bordering Ukraine, though the transit of grain through these countries to other EU states is still permitted.
Morawiecki recently stated that, regardless of the decision by the EC on the grain embargo, Poland would continue the ban.