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My source is the BBC World News, but in short Poland had recently stopped supplying Ukraine with weapons/wartime aid. According to the report, there was a disagreement regarding cheap grain prices from Ukraine, but I find it hard to believe that what was once the most ardent supporter of immediately sending heavy weaponry to its neighbor is ceasing aid over what's essentially a trade dispute with a country in the middle of a war with little access to other funding.

Is there a more political reason to stop sending weapons other than the seemingly unrelated reasons of "protecting domestic farmers"?

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5 Answers 5

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I think you are overestimating the severity of the disagreement. Note that the BBC article you quoted also says:

Arms exports to Ukraine will not stop completely as Polish manufacturer PGZ is due to send about 60 Krab artillery weapons in the coming months.

So what the Polish statement actually means is that right now there are not going to make new promises on sending more military hardware to Ukraine. They are going to honor their current promises and from the article it also looks like they don't actually have much more in stock that they could send even if they wanted to.

Poland and Ukraine are in significant disagreement about the grain trade but they are negotiating and I wouldn't read anything further than that into the current statements.

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    There's a Polish election next month. I expect conversations being more calmed and nuanced afterwards, no matter who wins.
    – Rekesoft
    Sep 21, 2023 at 8:24
  • In the US, fulfilling already allocated aid and not including aid in the budget in the future is called "stop sending aid" (which is an ongoing problem right now as the house prepares a budget ahead of a government shutdown) so sorry for confusing wording of that's not how it's used elsewhere in the world. Either way, the question was asking about the cause of relationship change between the two countries, not the effects so as is this does not answer the question.
    – uberhaxed
    Sep 21, 2023 at 14:54
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    @uberhaxed The key message is in the first and last sentence. You asked what caused the deterioration of the relationsship and I essentially say that it didn't deteriorate in any significant way, so there is no cause beyond the grain dispute you already meantioned.
    – quarague
    Sep 21, 2023 at 17:43
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    TBH, today's statement from PM Morawiecki about weapon exports doesn't sound like anyone is "overestimated the severity of the disagreement". Whether it's pre-election bluff or not, it does sound both unambiguous and presents a clearly negative stance of the current govt vs this.
    – user213769
    Sep 21, 2023 at 21:58
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    @uberhaxed The difference is that the USA still has a lot of materiel that it can supply, without compromising its own national defence. Poland has given away much of its Soviet-era equipment and is waiting for deliveries from, mostly, American, Korean and indigenous suppliers, to replenish its own capability. Sep 22, 2023 at 11:19
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OK. I listened to this interview 'till quoted word were said (after minute 9) and it is a huge exaggeration.
There is some tension between Poland (and Hungary and Slovakia) and Ukraine over agricultural bans. Interviewer asked Prime Minister if this issue will affect Polish weapons supply to Ukraine. And Mr Morawiecki clarified that supply of Polish weapons to Ukraine is over as Poland gave all it could. Now it needs to get equipment for its own army.
Polish government spokesman gave an interview with further clarifications:

  • Poland only carries out previously agreed deliveries of ammunition and weapons. Including those resulting from the contracts signed with Ukraine. This includes: the largest foreign contract signed by the Polish arms industry after 1989 - for the supply of the Krab howitzer.
  • An international aid hub still operates in Poland.
  • As RMF FM journalist Tomasz Skory notes, the statements of the Prime Minister and government spokesman simply mean that the equipment that Poland could have at its disposal without posing a threat to its own security has been exhausted.
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The Polish People's Party (PSL) says about one-third of Ukrainian grain leaks into Poland, though this is disputed. Market prices dropped by half. Hence I assume that the grain problem is the real reason, and there is no need to look for another one.

Poland and Ukraine keep negotiating while comparable clash between Ukraine and Slovakia is already resolved by setting up a licensing system for trading in grains (source). Poland’s president has said a dispute with Ukraine over grain imports will not significantly impact positive diplomatic relations.

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    Why should the opinion of PSL (a rather marginal party) be relevant? Sep 22, 2023 at 7:26
  • @EmilJeřábek For balance, you may wish to you may wish to also include the above cited Polish Presidant's comments. Sep 24, 2023 at 7:30
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The strongest constituency of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party are conservative farmers and, in contrast to much more heavily urbanized populations in other Western countries, Poland is still ~40% rural.

Ukrainian grain exports, that have nowhere else to go since Russia cancelled the Black Sea grain deal and so must be sold at any price, even below cost, or rot, are flooding the Polish market and are seriously hurting Polish farmers.

A political party catering to their base is to be expected, especially with elections coming up in a month.

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    ??? Polish People's Party is a marginal party with only a few seats in the Sejm. It's most definitely not "ruling". Sep 22, 2023 at 7:19
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    @EmilJeřábek whoops, misremembered the name of the main party, I think I'd just read something where the people's party was mentioned and it had stuck in my mind. Fixed.
    – Eugene
    Sep 22, 2023 at 14:15
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Is there a more political reason to stop sending weapons other than the seemingly unrelated reasons of "protecting domestic farmers"?

Yes. Putting aside that the weapons are still going to be sent (Poland is still a producer of arms and Ukraine can just buy it one way or another) and that this is mainly a verbal trick by the PM, there is. Elections and the fact that the Polish electorate's view of the issue is shifting, from decisive support for Ukrainian war effort (which was clearly the case when the "special operation" i.e. war escalation, happened) to being either indifferent (due to "war fatigue") or outright hostile to any mention of it and to Ukrainian people themselves (due to generally deteriorating economic conditions, low GDP, high inflation, instability, oversaturation of local job market with migrants, dropping quality of public services etc., for which the Ukrainians can be then easily blamed, either directly, due to migration, or indirectly, due to being engaged in a conflict that brought the crisis).

It's not a substantial shift yet, but visible enough to be played by the currently ruling far-right (PiS, Konfederacja) just before the elections.

An article from June 2023 on the matter (in Polish), still quite relevant:

https://businessinsider.com.pl/wiadomosci/spada-poparcie-polakow-dla-pomocy-ukraincom-oto-glowny-powod/7j60bt5

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