In a surprising turn of events, Polish President Andrzej Duda has canceled a meeting at the United Nations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The move comes at a time when the problem of grain is making things worse between the two countries. President Duda said that there was a scheduling problem, but it seems clear that there is more to the story.
With the European Commission's decision not to keep restrictions on Ukrainian grain and other goods, the trade war over agricultural goods has hit a boiling point. Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have chosen to keep their own restrictions on imports because they don't want their own farmers to lose out to cheaper food prices. Warsaw has even said that it might keep these walls up forever.
In reaction, Ukraine has said that it will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Poland and ask for arbitration if its neighbor puts restrictions on its agricultural exports. The trade disagreement between the two countries has turned into a tug-of-war, with each side trying to protect its own interests.
In an interview at the U.N., President Duda talked about how serious the situation was. Even though Poland wants to help Ukraine fight Russia, it can't let it hurt its own economy. Duda said that Ukraine was like a "drowning man" and compared the country's situation to that of a lifesaver who has to put self-defense first.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland has been a strong friend of the country. It has taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees and given the country military aid. But the trade conflict seems to have made things harder between the two countries. Duda said he was upset that Poland's neighbors in Ukraine don't seem to understand why Poland is worried about Ukrainian food getting into their market and why they need to control it.
In response to these tensions, some Polish lawmakers have suggested using Poland's strategic location as a hub for transporting weapons from the West as a way to get Ukraine to back down. Even though Poland still backs Ukraine's attempts to fix their borders, it's not clear how this trade issue will affect their relationship in the future.
In the end, President Duda's treatment of Zelensky at the U.N. shows that relations between Poland and Ukraine are getting worse. Grain has become a point of contention between these two nearby countries, each of which wants to protect its own interests. Even though Poland is standing up for Ukraine when Russia is being aggressive, that doesn't mean they won't care about how it might hurt their economy. It's a complicated situation that needs to be handled with care and thought.