Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has told Volodymyr Zelensky never to “insult Poles again” after the Ukrainian president suggested his neighbor was putting on a show over their disputes on grain exports.
The Polish leader fired back at Zelensky after the Ukrainian leader offered a veiled criticism of Poland at the United Nations’ general assembly this week, saying the dispute was “political theater” and that “some of our friends in Europe” have “made a thriller from the grain.”
On Friday, at a rally in Swidnik, Poland, Morawiecki hit back. Poland is holding elections next month, with a tight result expected.
“I want to tell President Zelensky never to insult Poles again, as he did recently during his speech at the UN,” he said.
“The Polish people will never allow this to happen, and defending the good name of Poland is not only my duty and honor, but also the most important task of the Polish government,” the Polish prime minister added.
The comments by Morawiecki risk deepening the divisions between two countries that have previously been close allies united against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Tensions between them have been rising in recent weeks over a ban on Ukrainian grain, initially put in place earlier this year by several EU nations to protect the livelihood of local farmers worried about being undercut by the low price of Ukrainian grain.
The EU announced plans to suspend the ban last week but Poland – alongside Hungary and Slovakia – said it would stick with it, sparking protests from Ukraine, which filed lawsuits against the three countries, and, subsequently, Zelensky’s comments at the UN.
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