Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday cautioned that the EU member would ban additional Ukrainian imports if Kyiv were to escalate their conflict over a grain embargo.

He issued the warning after Ukrainian deputy trade minister Taras Kachka told Poland’s Rzeczpospolita daily that his country would introduce a ban on Polish produce in the coming days.

“I am warning Ukraine’s authorities. Because if they are to escalate the conflict like that, we will add additional products to the ban on imports into Poland,” Morawiecki told Polsat News television.

Kyiv on Monday said it had filed lawsuits at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against its three EU neighbours -- Poland, Slovakia and Hungary -- over their bans on Ukrainian grain imports.

The Central European countries went against a decision by the European Commission last week to end the import ban.

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“Ukrainian authorities do not understand the degree to which Poland’s farming industry has been destabilised. We are protecting Polish farmers,” Morawiecki said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has closed off Black Sea shipping lanes used before the war, resulting in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.

In May, the EU agreed to restrict imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, seeking to protect farmers there who blamed the imports for a slump in prices on local markets.

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The measures allowed the products to keep transiting through the five countries, but stopped them being sold on the local market.

On Friday, the European Commission said it was ending the import ban, arguing that “the market distortions in the five member states bordering Ukraine have disappeared”.

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia immediately announced they would defy the move.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland, where elections take place next month.

The current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.

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The conflict has strained Ukraine’s relations with Poland, which has been a staunch supporter of its neighbour since the Russian invasion.

“We were the first to do a lot for Ukraine and that’s why we expect for them to understand our interests,” Morawiecki told Polsat News.

“Of course we respect all of their problems, but for us, the interests of our farmers are the most important thing.”

Poland is a major supplier of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and hosts some one million Ukrainian refugees, who have benefited from various kinds of state aid.

Government spokesman Piotr Muller said that Poland would likely let those benefits expire in large part next year.

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Comments (6)

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Brett
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Ukraine has a unique ability to shoot itself in the foot at times. As someone who supports Ukraine to the point of donating my money to the cause, I find it incredible how the government behaves at times. Zelensky has shown himself to be a great wartime leader, but at times he seems he seems very unsophisticated in his analysis and response to issues.

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David
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A smooth airtight grain transit and re-export system should be mutually agreed as quickly. As possible

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David
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Ukraine has to modify its approach to Poland. Everything cannot be rules based without concern for consequences. It has to start with communication not to explain but to fully understand and jointly work on acceptable solutions.
Ukraine has to understand that destroying polish farmers livelihood weakens Polands ability to support Ukraine.
Maybe in future some mutually agreed transition arrangement can be made, but step changes must be avoided.

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Mac Skiba
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I agree with Arthur, there is a short sightedness of suing one of your closest allies in this war against Russia. Solidarity is a two way street. If Poland is telling you their farmers and market are suffering it would be wise to give them the benefit of the doubt. Ukraine has a lot more to lose than Poland from this relationship deteriorating. It would be a strategic mistake for Ukraine to allow this to happen to solely protect Oligarchs and rich western farm land owners.

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Stockholm
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The story shows that the routing of Ukrainian grain through these neighboring countries is an anomaly caused by the war. Normally, the vast majority of the grain is put on ships and sent to distant customers. It would seem possible to restrict the sale of the Ukrainian grain to the normal customers if Ukrainian/Polish/EU authorities could come up with a plan. Just change the shipping point from Kherson to Gdansk.

alke
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@Stockholm,

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alke
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@Stockholm, exporting through Poland to third countries is not restricted, only selling inside Poland is being peohibited

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Arthur Turnbull
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Speaking as a citizen of a third country, I think that this action by Ukraine is senseless and self destructive. It does not actually matter who is right, or who is wrong in this situation, what matters is that Ukraine is intentionally creating a divide between itself and one of its closest allies. The only winner here is the blood soaked tyrant in the Kremlin. It is time for pragmatic adults on both sides to take well reasoned decisions and drop this matter. Put your energies where they belong.

Mac Skiba
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@Arthur Turnbull,

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