Poland admits to 'conflict' with Ukraine over grain exports leaking into its markets

Poland admits to 'conflict' with Ukraine over grain exports leaking into its markets

With parliamentary polls expected in October, ruling Law and Justice party finds itself between appeasing local farmers and maintaining good relations with Ukraine

By Jo Harper

WARSAW (AA) – Poland has acknowledged that increased Ukrainian grain imports are ruffling feathers in the country.

"There are such fields that are areas of dispute for us, or I would even say conflict, as occurs in relations between two sovereign states. This is true for grain and, more broadly, agricultural products," Secretary of State in the Presidential Office Wojciech Kolarski told Polish Radio on Tuesday.

On July 17, Russia withdrew from an agreement signed in Istanbul in July 2022 with Ukraine, Türkiye, and the UN, to create a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports since the war began in February of that year.

More grains were expected to pass through Poland on their way to global markets following the Russian government's decision.

Local farmers are now complaining that some of the Ukraine grains have been leaking into the Polish market, undercutting their products' prices.

With parliamentary elections expected in October, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is caught between appeasing domestic farmers, a key source of support, and maintaining good relations with Ukraine.

Kolarski added that Ukraine is "defending its freedom and its sovereignty.”

“The grain issue is proof that it is a free, sovereign country that also pursues its own policy, different from Poland's," he added.

Following its withdrawal from the grain agreement, Russia fired on Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Black Sea, according to the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv, which claimed that 26 port infrastructure facilities and five ships transporting grain and other agricultural products were destroyed.

Poland intends to keep the ban on grain imports from Ukraine in effect after Sept. 15, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said recently. The Polish government will demand that the embargo on the transport of Ukrainian grain be extended at least until the end of the year.

Denis Shmyhal, the head of the Ukrainian government, said on Saturday that the Polish government's announcement is "unfriendly and populist."

On the same day, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko twitted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that "blocking Ukrainian grain on the EU border is unacceptable. Russian aggression poses a real threat to our farmers – the destruction of ports and grain silos, as well as the blockade of the Black Sea, make work difficult and dangerous."

Romania and Croatia have stepped up to help with grain transportation, but the Polish route is crucial.

Lithuania proposed on Monday shifting Ukrainian grain exports through Poland to its Baltic port of Klaipeda and four other ports in Estonia and Latvia.

Ukraine's railway infrastructure is incompatible with the majority of EU Member States' rail networks, and the alternative of transporting grain by truck to cargo ships is both costly and time-consuming.

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