Poland has announced it will stop sending weapons to Ukraine in a dramatic move that is the latest development in an ongoing tussle between the two usually solid allies.

What exactly has Poland said?

On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons.”

The announcement came after Poland summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to protest remarks at the UN by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who earlier this week said some countries were only pretending to support his nation. 

This sounds like a big development?

It’s huge. Poland has been one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters after Russia invaded in February 2022, and is one of Kyiv's main weapons suppliers, AFP reports.

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Much of the weaponry that the US and other countries send to Ukraine passes through Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west.

What’s prompted it?

It’s all about grain, so here’s a bit of background… 

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine closed Black Sea shipping lanes used before the war, resulting in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain bound for Africa and the Middle East.

In May 2022, the EU dropped duties in the wake of the Russian invasion to help Kyiv maintain vital revenues.

Faced with a slump in prices on local markets and angry European farmers, Brussels in spring agreed to allow five countries to restrict imports of grain from Ukraine through September.

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The measures allowed the products to keep transiting through Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, but stopped them from being sold on the local market. 

The European Commission (EC) created the original agreement, which expired last week. The EC refrained from renewing it, citing the disappearance of “market distortions” and improved transport conditions.

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This has angered farmers in neighboring countries, who now face stiff competition for their products from the vast volumes of Ukrainian grain which can now – according to the EC – be sold in their countries.

The import ban is particularly sensitive in Poland, where elections take place next month and the current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.

Hungary immediately announced it was going to close its border to 24 Ukrainian products, up from four previously. Poland’s populist right-wing government followed suit and extended an embargo on Ukrainian grain, as the issue is particularly sensitive ahead of next month’s elections.

How did Ukraine react to this? 

Ukraine announced on Monday evening that it had filed lawsuits at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against its three neighboring countries, including Poland.

Zelensky’s subsequent comments at the UN further angered Poland resulting in the summoning of Ukraine’s ambassador in Warsaw and Morawiecki’s announcement to stop sending weapons.

What’s the situation now?

There’s currently a bit of a standoff – a Polish foreign ministry statement said that “putting pressure on Poland in multilateral forums or sending complaints to international courts are not appropriate methods to resolve differences between our countries.” 

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Kyiv responded by calling on Poland to “leave emotion aside” after it had summoned its ambassador, urging Warsaw to adopt a “constructive” approach in the dispute.

On Thursday morning, Poland said it will complete arms deliveries previously agreed with Kyiv.

"Poland will only carry out previously agreed deliveries of ammunition and armaments. Including those resulting from contracts signed with Ukraine," government spokesman Piotr Muller told the PAP agency.

Kyiv has said more talks will happen in "the coming days" but as things stand, until the two countries resolve the situation, no more Polish weaponry will be heading to Ukraine.

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