War in Ukraine: the risky strategy of the Polish government

War in Ukraine: the risky strategy of the Polish government

2023-09-21 18:04:32

This is a first since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: a country has publicly announced that it will no longer deliver weapons to kyiv. And not the least, since it is Poland, its neighbor, one of its main suppliers of military equipment, after the United States and Germany; and host to a million Ukrainian refugees. Certainly, Warsaw promises to honor deliveries “previously agreed” and assures that this suspension will not have an impact on arms transfers to Ukraine via its territory. But tensions have never been so strong since February 24, 2022.

As the legislative elections of October 15 draw closer, the Polish government is showing itself as nervous as ever. For him, there is no question of sparing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in the midst of a diplomatic offensive, in New York, on the occasion of the UN General Assembly, to maintain support for his country. It must be said that he did not mince his words in this forum, implying, with regard to Poland, that “certain countries feign solidarity by indirectly supporting Russia”. An outing which earned a summons from the Ukrainian ambassador to the country.

At the origin of this muscular exchange, a dispute over cereals. Like Slovakia and Hungary, Poland announced that it would maintain its embargo on Ukrainian cereals, although the European Union had lifted it last week – it concerned five countries -, considering that it was not no longer existed “no market distortion”. “The ultraconservative government of the Law and Justice party (PiS) is sending a signal to its agricultural electorate: it indeed feels threatened in the upcoming elections, fearing in particular that its supporters will not all go to the polling stations,” explains Lukas Macek, associate researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute.

The government weakened by the visa affair

The September polls only give the coalition led by PiS a 5 to 9 point lead, ahead of the liberal opposition Civic Coalition, likely to take power in the event of an alliance with two other parties. determined to oust the current government – ​​The Left and Third Way. “The campaign is very tough for elections considered to be the most important since 1989, because the PiS, with a third mandate, could increase its hold on the State, which would make the prospect of political alternation all the more difficult “, believes Lukas Macek.

The renunciation of new arms deliveries comes as the government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki finds itself confronted with a scandal which has earned it requests for clarification from Brussels and Berlin: visas were allegedly granted to foreign nationals in exchange for bribes. -de-table – several people have already been charged. The ruling populists are trying to downplay the matter, citing “a few hundred visas”. For its part, the opposition cites 250,000 fraudulent visas, and its leader, former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, denounces “the biggest scandal in Poland in the 21st century.” It could be all the more damaging for the PiS as it wants to be the champion of firmness on immigration. Therefore, the slightest counter-fire, even to the detriment of the relationship with Ukraine, is worth taking.

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