On September 19th, Polish President Andrzej Duda, during a briefing for Polish media in front of the UN headquarters in New York, commented on the conflict surrounding the export of Ukrainian grain, likening Ukraine to a drowning person grasping at anything and potentially pulling others down with them.
He added that, despite his plans, he did not meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky due to scheduling conflicts at the UN General Assembly.
It's worth noting that the European Commission decided not to extend the ban on the import of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia beyond September 15th. This ban was introduced on May 2nd to replace unilateral restrictive measures imposed by these countries, which the European Commission had criticized as unacceptable. The need for these restrictions in the five EU countries was explained by the oversupply of Ukrainian grain in the market, which was driving down prices for local agricultural products and negatively impacting the income of local farmers.
Almost immediately after the European Commission's decision, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia announced their own unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian grain, ignoring the European Commission's decision and violating EU single-market rules, causing anger among the governments of other EU member states.
In response to these actions, Kyiv decided to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Germany's Minister of Agriculture, Jem Ozdemir, at a meeting of EU agriculture ministers, expressed dissatisfaction with Warsaw, Budapest, and Bratislava, accusing them of demonstrating "incomplete solidarity" with Ukraine. "When it's beneficial for you, you're in solidarity, and when it's not, you're not," said the German diplomat.
How long can the EU (and other allies of Ukraine) continue to support Kyiv while facing the political pressure of stimulating their own economies? This question will become increasingly pressing over time, as Ukraine, a country with a significant agricultural sector, seeks to become a full-fledged member of the EU.
President Duda's statement implies that Ukraine should yield to its "savior," Poland. However, the comparison of Ukraine to a drowning person is inappropriate primarily because Ukraine defending its economic interests does not pose a mortal threat to Poland. Ukrainians are heroically fighting against an existential threat from Russia, and thanks to their resilience and comprehensive support from partners, Ukraine is confident of its future victory.
Regarding disagreements over agricultural exports, Ukraine is strictly adhering to the rules and agreements with the EU. Kyiv will accept any decision by the WTO, even if it contradicts its own interests.