Poland will support Ukraine says FM

Zbigniew Rau said that "the stronger Poland is, the more it can help Ukraine." Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Poland will continue to support Ukraine, but it must protect its farmers, the Polish foreign minister said on Friday in an interview published by the Brussels news portal Politico.

Zbigniew Rau said that "the stronger Poland is, the more it can help Ukraine."

Polish-Ukrainian relations have come under pressure recently from the dispute over grain. Earlier this month Poland decided to maintain an embargo on some Ukrainian agri-products, including wheat and maize, owing to concerns a glut of imports from its eastern neighbour could damage Polish farming.

Ukraine has taken exception to the ban, and has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization.  

"We will continue to support Ukraine, but we must support are farmers," Rau said. "We would like a strong Ukrainian state with a vibrant economy to emerge from this war, and we did not throw words to the wind, but confirmed them with actions." 

"But we have never been the main recipient of Ukrainian grain; we have our own strong agricultural sector. Before Russia's invasion, less than 1 percent of the Ukrainian harvest was sold on the Polish market, and most of it went to middle-income countries in Africa and Asia." 

Rau added that the system "was intended to facilitate the emergency transit of Ukrainian grain so that it could reach traditional recipients outside Europe, but ultimately turned out to be a scheme allowing for unlimited sales of grain on the Polish market".

He added that "in the first four months of 2023, 600 times more wheat was exported from Ukraine to Poland than a year earlier, which caused market disruptions and losses for Polish farmers." 

Welcome to The First News weekly newsletter

Every Friday catch up on our editor’s top pick of news about Poland, including politics, business, life and culture. To receive your free email subscription, sign up today.