Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Volodymyr Zelensky to never “insult Poles again” after the Ukrainian president suggested Poland was stirring up drama over a dispute between the two countries regarding grain exports.
The Polish Prime Minister’s comments come after Zelensky criticized its neighbor during the United Nations General Assembly this week, after several EU countries suspended bans put on Ukrainian grain earlier this year, while Poland joined Hungary and Slovakia in keeping bans in place.
The bans were originally instituted to protect local farmers iworried about being undercut by low Ukrainian grain prices. Ukraine has since filed lawsuits against the three countries over the continuing bans.
Meanwhile, Zelensky offered thinly-veiled criticism of Poland, which has been hugely supportive of Ukraine’s war effort, including taking in over a million refugees from the conflict. He called the grain dispute “political theater,” saying that “some of our friends in Europe” have “made a thriller from the grain.”
Morawiecki responded to Zelensky’s comments on on Friday at a rally in Swidnik, a city in southeastern Poland about 50 miles from the Ukraine border.
“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 prime minister added.
The ongoing tussle is a departure from the previously friendly relationship between Ukraine, Poland, and other former Eastern Bloc nations, which may be targeted by Putin if his war to expand territory is successful.