Posted: 27.09.2023 10:17:00

From love to hate

Relations between Poland and Ukraine have fallen into a steep decline

A member of the Polish Sejm has billed Ukraine in the amount of 101 billion zlotys. Krzysztof Bosak (pictured left) is outraged that Kiev decided to complain about Warsaw to the WTO, and came out with a ‘bill’ to the Ukrainian Embassy.

How long does love last? Andrzej Duda knows the answer to this question for sure. On June 22nd (what an irony!) the Polish leader said that he and Zelensky ‘love each other’, and on September 20th, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he called Ukraine a drowned man from whom one must stay away, saying that it will, of course, drag Poland to the bottom.
The interaction of the two countries, both from a historical perspective and at the present stage, resembles the relationship of mentally unstable lovers: either love to the grave, or attempts to drive a partner into this very coffin. 
Relations in the first format have been observed between Warsaw and Kiev since February 24th last year, and their core was complete Russophobia. Poland has become the main supplier of weapons to Ukraine and the main transport hub of the West. In addition, the Poles purchased grain and other agricultural products from their eastern neighbour, which caused the collapse of their own market and the rage of farmers.
But along with the fall, elections were inexorably approaching, to which PiS would have to go with an ambiguous background. On the one hand, they managed to push through several repressive laws against the opposition and control a significant part of the media. On the other hand, in September the party suffered several powerful blows. The opposition, and above all Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform, did not miss the chance and began to fire at their opponent with all the power of the propaganda means available to them.

Warsaw 'counter-offensive'

Magically, the start of an active election campaign coincided with a serious cooling between Warsaw and Kiev. Back in August, the head of the office for international policy in the office of the President of Poland, Marcin Przydacz, said that Ukraine should appreciate Polish assistance. Subsequently, several other politicians, including Prime Minister Morawiecki, spoke out in support of these words. However, these were flowers, and the Polish authorities saved the berries for mid-September.
On September 15th, the Polish ban on the import of Ukrainian grain came into force; three days later, Kiev filed a claim with the WTO against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, and through the mouth of Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka, it threatened to impose an embargo on Polish goods such as onions, cabbage, tomatoes and apples. On the same day, all three countries with which the Zelensky regime was going to sue refused to work within the framework of the EC platform on Ukrainian grains, saying that the information received by Ukraine could be used against them.
So far, the busiest day of the confrontation was September 19th. The instigator from Poland was the Minister of EU Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Senk. He said that Warsaw may stop supporting Ukraine if it continues in the same spirit. And so that the regime in Kiev does not doubt, the spokesman for the Polish government, Piotr Müller, stunned him with the news that support for refugees will be stopped from 2024.
However, this was just artillery preparation. The main surprise came from Duda himself, who delivered an incendiary ‘speech about a drowned man’ and pointedly cancelled a meeting with a colleague in a dangerous business on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
For Zelensky, apparently, the brutal pressure of the top of the Polish establishment, and even in combination with a not very flattering reception in the United States, turned out to be unexpected, and he began to make mistakes. He took the dispute, which at first concerned only Kiev and Warsaw, to the UN podium, accusing ‘some European partners’ of ‘acting together with Russia and playing in ‘political theatre’’.
Zelensky spoke in a half-empty hall. Therefore, Kiev propagandists decided to add a little popularity to their owner by editing footage of his sold-out performance. It turned out as expectedly disgusting: the recording of the broadcast clearly shows Zelensky listening to himself. 
Zelensky’s harsh rhetoric served as a reason for the continuation of the attack on Ukraine by Poland. On the evening of September 20th, Prime Minister Morawiecki announced that Poland would no longer transfer any weapons to Ukraine, since it was actively arming itself. In this case, already concluded contracts will be fulfilled, but after this Kiev will not receive a single shell. Morawiecki also warned the Ukrainians that if the embargo on their products escalates, it will expand. On the same day, Ambassador Zvarych was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry, who was once again informed in detail what official Warsaw thinks about Zelensky’s words at the UN.

Election matters

There is no common view on the situation among the opposition forces within Poland. Or rather, most players agree that Warsaw made a number of mistakes in relations with Kiev. Civic Platform accuses its competitors of ‘lack of strategy’ and presses on the fact that PiS’s policy on the Ukrainian track has completely failed. However, at the same time, Tusk’s supporters avoid sharp formulations on the essence of the conflict: in the election race they are closest to the coveted victory, and they cannot spoil relations with Ukraine in advance. The left also has a similar opinion, focusing on the fact that what is happening is a big staging before the vote.
But the far-right from the far-right coalition Confederation of Freedom and Independence believe that the authorities should be much tougher with Kiev and defend exclusively Polish interests.

By Anton Popov