The Prime Minister of Poland has announced the country has stopped supplying arms to Ukraine as its ongoing dispute over grain imports escalates, The Guardian reported.
Poland is one of Kyiv’s main weapons suppliers and has been one of the leading backers of the Ukrainian cause since its conflict with Russia began in February 2022, but tensions have increased amid the growing row over imports of Ukrainian grain, the 21 September report said.
A day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed Poland was playing into Russia’s hands by banning Ukrainian grain imports, Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki was quoted as saying on 20 September that his country had decided to prioritise its own defence in the future.
“We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” Morawiecki said.
The following day, the Warsaw government spokesperson Piotr Müller clarified the statement, saying Poland was “only carrying out previously agreed supplies of ammunition and armaments”.
However, the announcement was largely rhetorical as the majority of available Polish military aid was transferred to Ukraine in the early months of the war and there was no question of putting a stop to the use of Poland as a transit and repair hub for weapons supplies from other countries, The Guardian wrote.
The grain dispute came after the Russian invasion closed Black Sea shipping lanes and resulted in some Ukrainian grain being diverted overland through Europe.
In May, the EU agreed to restrict imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, seeking to protect farmers there who claimed Ukrainian imports were affecting local prices. The measures allowed transit through the countries to continue.
After the European Commission said it was ending the import ban on 15 September, claiming the “market distortions” had disappeared, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced their own restrictions on imports from Ukraine.
According to a Reuters report on 19 September report, the Polish, Slovak and Hungarian governments’ actions were made in a bid to protect farmers from a surge of grain and food imports from Ukraine since its invasion by Russia last year.
In response, Ukraine had filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding the trade dispute, the report said.
Against this backdrop, the Bulgarian government has banned the import of Ukrainian sunflowerseeds following lengthy negotiations with the country’s farmers, trade sources told AgriCensus.
The decision to block imports came amid strike action from Bulgarian farmers which followed the government’s decision to lift its temporary ban on the import of Ukrainian grains and oilseeds, the 20 September report said.
“Our prime minister stated that there will be no import of sunflowerseeds from Ukraine, especially until some kind of quarterly or licensing system is established between Bulgaria and Ukraine,” one Bulgaria-based broker was quoted as saying.
The move came despite the fact Bulgaria needs Ukrainian sunflowers after hot, dry conditions cut back the country's production prospects and left the country's crushers repeatedly calling for help to secure supply, the report said.
According to September estimates of the sunflower harvest by local Bulgarian companies, the country would harvest a sunflower crop of 1.7M-1.8M tonnes in the 2022/23 marketing season, which would be 17% lower than August expectations.
Meanwhile, three more commercial vessels were heading for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to be loaded with agricultural products and iron ore, AgriCensus reported Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Minister of Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine, as saying.
In a note published on 15 September, Kubrakov said three bulk vessels were heading towards Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi ports using the so-called temporary corridor for civilian vessels created at the initiative of the Ukrainian authorities.
After loading more than 127,000 tonnes of agricultural products and iron ore, the vessels would be heading to China, Egypt and Spain, the note said.
The first two vessels to use the temporary corridor established by the Ukrainian Armed Forces Navy, Resilient Africa and Aroyat, were successfully loaded in Chornomorsk port and dispatched earlier in the same week, the 22 September report said.
Those vessels were carrying more than 20,000 tonnes of grains, AgriCensus wrote.