April 14, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Poland will protect its market from the influx of grain from Ukraine, President Andrzej Duda said, urging his neighbor to refrain from public attacks in a dispute that’s shaken ties between key allies against Russia’s invasion.

Most Read from Bloomberg

“We cannot allow that Ukrainian grain is sold on the Polish market without any control,” Duda said in a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on Tuesday.

“We also have our own citizens, we have to care for their interest,” Duda said. “We need to take care of them. It’s a pity our Ukrainian neighbors don’t want to understand that.”

Poland’s lockstep solidarity with Ukraine has been a centerpiece of European efforts to provide backing for Kyiv.

But that relationship has shown signs of strain, with authorities in Kyiv decrying Warsaw’s decision to impose a ban on grain imports — a reaction to protests by farmers against plummeting grain prices. Ukraine this week filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the restrictions, which hamper a crucial economic lifeline.

“I can only make an appeal to stop attacking us in the media,” Duda said. “We’re really trying to do a lot to support our Ukrainian neighbors and have sacrificed a lot.”

Ukraine endorsed a mechanism on Tuesday to control the exports of four key crops to its neighbors in the European Union and sent the proposal for the bloc’s approval.

If Kyiv’s proposal is accepted, its exporters will get licenses to ship some wheat, corn, sunflower seeds and rapeseed and Ukraine ensure that volumes don’t exceed agreed limits. Romania, which also restricted Ukraine’s grain imports, has said the proposal meets its demands and did not impose a unilateral ban.

While Poland has closed its market to grain imports from Ukraine, it still allows for transit elsewhere through its territory, which Duda said has doubled in volume this year.

He cited “a certain fatigue” with all the support in Poland. “But it’s normal, it’s just human,” he said.

Poland has been a major source of military assistance for Ukraine and accepted about two million refugees from Russia’s invasion.

For Poland, the issue is a political one. The ruling Law & Justice party, seeking a third term in office in an election slated for Oct. 15, is reluctant to alienate a swathe of its rural voting base. Growing discontent over the cost of supporting Ukraine has boosted party’s opponents on the far right.

The war and the shift of geopolitical gravity in Europe eastward has raised Duda’s profile, giving him a role he’s embraced with shuttle diplomacy among NATO allies to drum up support for Kyiv. At the center has been a strong personal relationship with Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The two had regular phone conversations in the first months of the war but the interactions have become less frequent of late.

–With assistance from Kasia Klimasinska and Andrea Dudik.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *