Poland said on Wednesday it will no longer supply Ukraine with weapons as disputes between the two countries over food imports continue. As Voice of America correspondent Henry Ridgwell reports, analysts fear that the dispute is highlighting different European positions at a critical moment for the conflict in Ukraine.
Until now, Poland has been one of Ukraine's closest allies, accepting over a million refugees and providing Kiev with significant military support, including tanks and MiG-29 fighter jets.
But amid an escalating dispute, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday there would be no new arms shipments to Ukraine.
"We are no longer transferring any weapons to Ukraine, because now we are arming ourselves with the most modern weapons."
The prime minister's timing and tone surprised many of Poland's allies. "It made a very negative echo in the world. For an ordinary Ukrainian citizen, this means that the Poles will stop helping them," says analyst Marcin Zaborowski, with the GLOBSEC organization.
Poland has played a key role in supplying Ukraine with weapons. VOA spoke to analyst Patrick Bury from Bath University.
"Poland campaigned to support Ukraine with significant armaments, influencing Germany and Britain to send tanks to Ukraine. He campaigned for the supply of aircraft to Ukraine".
The source of the dispute is the import of Ukrainian wheat. Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed a unilateral import ban last week, saying their farmers were being hurt, after temporary restrictions from the European Union expired.
Ukraine filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sharply criticized the decision of the three European countries, saying that it helped Moscow.
Poland summoned the Ukrainian ambassador for reprimand. Polish President Andrzej Duda compared Ukraine to a drowning man.
"Of course, we must act in a way to protect ourselves from the harm caused by the drowning man, because once the drowning man hurts us, he will no longer have our help."
Ukraine's agriculture minister said Thursday he had agreed with his Polish counterpart to find a solution to the trade dispute. The United States played down the dispute. Analysts say it is likely that Russia is seeing cracks in the West's unity.
"It is not a good indicator, and of course Russia will see it as such. The question remains, will more differences emerge or is this the end?” says analyst Patrick Bury from the University of Bath.
Elections will be held next month in Poland Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is continuing a deep reorganization of the government. Analysts say that internal policies are a source of tensions./VOA