Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday said he is willing to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as "friends" to resolve "difficult situations" between their countries after Warsaw signaled it would stop sending arms to Kyiv amid a dispute over grain imports.
The decision by Poland, one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, was a major reversal that threatens to upend Europe’s strategic relationship Kyiv as it wages a counteroffensive against Russia.
Referring to Zelensky's remarks Tuesday at the UN General Assembly that "some of our friends in Europe play out solidarity in a political theater," Duda told Polish channel TVN24 that although his Ukrainian counterpart did not mention Poland specifically, "the suggestion was there and we all understood it."
Asked whether he was upset by Zelensky's comments, Duda said, "maybe upset is a too strong word."
"I was embittered, I would rather put it that way. I say this: 'let’s stay calm, please do not raise the temperature, because this is a dispute that concerns a small part of our relations. Let's not allow it to affect the whole, because there is no justification for it and only others will benefit from it,'" Duda said.
Pressure has been building for months over a ban on Ukrainian grain, initially put in place earlier this year by several European Union nations to protect the livelihood of local farmers worried about being undercut by the low price of Ukrainian grain.
Last week, the EU announced plans to suspend the rule. But three nations — Poland, Hungary and Slovakia — said they intended to defy the change and keep the restrictions in place.
"This matter needs to be resolved, it is a dispute that is in fact a legal dispute," Duda told TVN24. "I understand that [Ukraine] are looking for help in their situation at all costs and therefore they do not care where they sell their grain, but it is not indifferent to us, and we want to help them and we do help them."
Arms shipments: Duda said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's statement Wednesday that Warsaw would no longer transfer weapons to Kyiv was "interpreted in the worst possible way."
Duda clarified that the prime minister was talking about new weapons earmarked for Polish army modernization and that Poland's existing pledges to Ukraine — including for howitzers, ammunition and mine clearing vehicles — would be honored.
He also did not rule out the possibility of resuming arms transfers to Kyiv in the future.