President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine started his April 5 visit to Warsaw by receiving the prestigious White Eagle award and ended it with Polish assurances of support for NATO and EU membership, more MiG-29s, and the development of a new Polish-Ukrainian strategic agreement.
Following a day’s worth of meetings with Polish President Andrzej Duda, other officials and the business community, Zelensky, in turn, thanked Poland for its staunch support during Russia’s full-scale invasion, including being the fourth largest supplier of military aid per capita to Ukraine (after the Baltic countries) and hosting more than 1.5 million Ukrainian war refugees.
"I will never get tired of thanking the ordinary Polish people who have been helping the ordinary Ukrainian people since the beginning of the Russian invasion," Zelensky told an afternoon joint press conference. "Ukraine will never forget your humane attitude towards Ukrainians."
For his part, President Duda talked about assisting Ukraine not only in the context of the current war, but going forward.
"Today we are trying to get for Ukraine – including at the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius which will soon take place – additional security guarantees, which will strengthen Ukraine's military potential, which will give Ukrainian society a greater sense of security, and which will represent strong support to Ukrainian soldiers currently in battle with Russian aggressors," Duda said.
He added that such guarantees are an "introduction to Ukraine's full membership in NATO" and that Poland "firmly" supports Kyiv's bid to join the EU.
As predicted by Kyiv Post, Duda also confirmed that: four MiG-29s from Poland have been secretly delivered to Ukraine “several months ago”; four more are about to be delivered, and; a further six are on their way. Poland, together with Slovakia, are the first countries to commit to providing Ukraine with figher jets.
"I think that in the future we will be able to transfer our whole remaining fleet of MiG-29s to Ukraine, if there is still such a need," Duda said of 28 MiG-29 jets in Poland's possession while noting the need for NATO authorization. Poland’s MiG fleet is in the process of being replaced with South Korean and American built planes.
Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki also announced that a further tranche of military aid will take place including the MiG-29 fighters, Rosomak armored personnel carriers, Rak self-propelled mortars, and Piorun air defense systems.
Building on preliminary discussions in May 2022, the Presidents also agreed to forge a new bilateral “neighborly relations” agreement with a particular focus on the Polish-Ukrainian border.
“We want regular Poles and regular Ukrainians not to be impacted by the border between our countries,” President Duda said. “We want this border not to be an obstacle between them. It should not obstruct employment or educational opportunities.”
As earlier suggested by Kyiv Post, it now appears the new agreement may also deal with the contentious issue of Ukrainian grain and other food imports into Poland. Despite its political and practical support for Ukraine, Poland has recently seen a wave of protests by farmers over Ukrainian grain exports which they say are driving down market prices.
On the same day as the Presidential meeting, the Polish agriculture minister announced he was stepping down following the protests and blamed the European Union for inaction in helping Poland’s farmers.
Since the full-scale invasion’s start, the meeting in Warsaw was the first international meeting by Zelensky that was publicly announced in advance. It was the sixth time overall that the Polish and Ukrainian Presidents have met with President Duda travelling to Kyiv four times since February 2022.
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