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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Poland fumes over Ukrainian president’s UN speech

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Poland has expressed its anger and disappointment over the speech of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the United Nations General Assembly in which he accused Poland and other European countries of imposing unfair restrictions on Ukrainian grain exports and playing into Russia’s hands.

Zelenskyy, who addressed the world body for the first time since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of his country in February 2022, said that some of Ukraine’s friends in Europe were engaging in “political theater” with grain agreements that violated the principles of free trade and solidarity.

He said that these countries were “weaponizing” food and energy against Ukraine, which is facing a humanitarian crisis and a shortage of supplies due to the war. He also said that these countries were indirectly supporting Russia’s aggression and undermining the international rules-based order.

Poland, which is one of Ukraine’s closest allies and a vocal critic of Russia’s actions, reacted strongly to Zelenskyy’s remarks. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that he was “shocked” and “deeply saddened” by Zelenskyy’s speech, which he called “unfriendly” and “ungrateful”.

He said that Poland had always stood by Ukraine’s side and provided it with humanitarian aid, military assistance, diplomatic support, and access to the European Union market. He also said that Poland had a right to protect its own interests and security, especially in the face of Russia’s threats and provocations.

Morawiecki also warned Zelenskyy to “never insult Poles again” and to respect Poland’s sovereignty and dignity. He said that Poland expected an apology from Zelenskyy and a clarification of his position.

Zelenskyy has not yet responded to Poland’s reaction, but he has defended his speech as a reflection of the reality and challenges that Ukraine is facing. He said that he did not intend to offend anyone but to speak the truth and call for unity and action against Russia.

The diplomatic row between Poland and Ukraine has raised concerns about the stability and cohesion of the Eastern European region, which is under increasing pressure from Russia’s expansionism and interference. Analysts say that the dispute could weaken the solidarity and cooperation among Ukraine’s allies and partners, and give Russia an advantage in its hybrid war against Ukraine.

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