Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) shakes hands with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L) during their meeting in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, 22 January 2024. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO


Tusk and Zelenskyy ‘to end row’ over Polish truckers and UK eases Ukraine visit rules


The leaders of Poland and Ukraine pledged to tackle a thorny political dispute that had hampered their critical wartime alliance and boost defence cooperation as Russia’s invasion grinds towards its third year.

In his first visit to neighbouring Ukraine as Prime Minister Poland’s Donald Tusk on January 22 delivered a message of friendship to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and said both sides “have reached a common understanding” over protests by Polish truckers.

“Poland will do everything to increase Ukraine’s chances of victory in this war,” Tusk said at a joint media briefing.

Warsaw became a key ally for Kyiv as it sought Western financial and military support against Russia but relations deteriorated in recent months when blockades at the border damaged Ukraine’s economy.

The truckers agreed last week to suspend their protests, which had been aimed at revoking Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the European Union, until March 1.

“We understand the depth of the reasons that led to this kind of situation, but draw attention first and foremost to the depth of the threat that stands before our peoples,” Zelenskiy said, adding that he welcomed Warsaw’s work on the issue.

Both leaders hailed plans between their countries for joint arms production and Zelenskyy said on X that they had discussed “a new form of cooperation aimed at larger-scale arms purchases for Ukrainian needs”. He did not give details.

Poland’s new Government is exploring how to make more ammunition and military equipment as part of a new aid package for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said recently.

Tusk’s trip coincided with Ukraine’s Unity Day, which celebrates the unification in 1919 of Western and eastern Ukraine, which has faced numerous invasions over its long history.

Zelenskyy marked the day by announcing plans to offer dual Ukrainian citizenship to ethnic Ukrainians and their descendants from all around the world, apart from Russia.

The meeting between the Poland and Ukraine leaders came on the same day Britain partially eased its travel guidance for Western regions of Ukraine, citing the country’s “strong air defences” against Russian attacks.

Britain had advised its citizens against all travel to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Updated advice published on January 22 said the UK was relaxing that guidance for those with “urgent” family or business commitments in the West of the country, including Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and Chernivtsi.

Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said the change reflected Ukraine’s “resilience” in the face of Russian attacks and its strong air defence systems, which were defending it against missile and drone strikes.

“The FCDO continues to advise against all travel to the rest of Ukraine including the capital Kyiv,” it said.