Poland says it will no longer arm Ukraine against Russia

Sao Paulo

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday (20) that his country would no longer provide weapons to Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion. “We don’t publish anymore. We will now equip ourselves with the most modern weapons,” he said in a broadcast on private television Polsat News.

It is the first time that an ally of Kiev against Russian aggression, a member of the Western NATO alliance, has made such a statement. And it’s not just any supporter: Poland is the sixth largest donor of military aid to the Ukrainians since the invasion in February 2022, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Germany).

From then until July 31 of this year, weapons worth R$15.6 billion were sent, notably 240 T72 tanks and an uncertain number of Krab howitzers and MiG29 fighters Warsaw was Volodimir’s first ally Zelenski, who approved this type of transfer.

The Prime Minister’s sentence, which of course could have been a bravery that needs to be corrected, comes at an extremely delicate moment in the relationship between the neighbors and has an electoral context that explains the assertiveness.

This week, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary maintained their veto on the purchase of Ukrainian grain, which is crucial to Kiev’s economic survival. According to governments, there is a risk that the market will be flooded by neighboring products, creating inflation imbalances and risks for local farmers.

When Russia withdrew from the plan in July to allow Ukrainian agricultural production to flow across the Black Sea, including attacking rival ports, Zelensky looked for alternatives to make a profit from his wheat, corn and the like.

The Ukrainian president angrily said during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday (19) that the “political theater” surrounding the grain issue was helping “only Moscow” in the conflict. The words resonated widely in Warsaw, as Morawiecki’s party will run in parliamentary elections on October 15.

The government therefore summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to the country to ask him to explain the speech. To make the soup even more sour, Polish President Andrzej Duda said in an interview on Tuesday, also in New York, that Poland should be more grateful for the help it receives from the West.

In Kiev’s accounts, defense spending as of last month alone amounted to R$500 billion, 25 times the normal defense budget in the year before the war. The United States leads the way in this aid, although the European Union is the largest donor in terms of total aid, which includes money for humanitarian efforts.

Morawiecki is, of course, speaking to his internal audience. “Ukraine is defending itself against a brutal Russian attack and we understand that this attack creates an unprecedented situation. But this is just a normal war,” he said.

He then defended Poland’s major rearmament program, which aims to make the country’s land forces the most capable in Europe by 2026. They are on track: American and South Korean heavy tanks and fighters, drones and antiaircraft systems have already been ordered. Helicopters and all kinds of weapons.

The escalation, according to the government, will see the country double its defense spending this year to 4% of gross domestic product, the highest among all 31 NATO member states with 2% recommended as the ideal spending floor, achieved by only a few of its members .

It is also a reaction to Putin, who has indirectly threatened the country and accused him without evidence of wanting to intervene in the war, and to the militarization of Kremlin ally Belarus, which now has Russian nuclear weapons on its neighboring Polish territory.

Politically, it is another setback for Zelensky, who is also asking the USA for more military aid in New York. The counteroffensive that began in June has so far failed to produce any tangible results, adding to the bad mood among Western allies who are flooding the country with weapons.

The Ukrainian even complained that such weapons were a long time coming, but the fact is that his defense system is being questioned. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kiev to check the situation. Despite optimistic public statements, analysts believe Zelenski is in trouble.

So much so that he changed the leadership of his defense ministry, which was also embroiled in corruption allegations. To compensate, it stepped up attacks on Russia’s weakest point in the region, namely its naval bases in the Black Sea and annexed Crimea.

Even the wisdom of this statement is being questioned, as was Zelenski when he was interviewed by CNN at the United Nations and always sympathized with his cause. He said Crimea, which has been in Putin’s hands since 2014, is Ukrainian and therefore a legitimate target. Moderator Wolf Blitzer seemed unconvinced; which the Poles, for whatever reason, do not prove.

At the NATO summit in July, the then British defense minister complained in the face of Kiev’s demands that “we are not the Amazon” of weapons. And then the chief of staff of the Secretary General of the Alliance stated that it was time for Ukraine to think about ceding territories to the Russians.

All of this can be clarified, at least in terms of public statements, but it signals that the pressure on the Ukrainian president is increasing. The American electoral calendar does not help at all: President Joe Biden will be held accountable for the results of the billions donated to Kiev in his 2024 reelection campaign, and his rival Donald Trump has already signaled that he is against further transfers of money.