French Foreign Minister Catherina Colonna said Wednesday that Poland’s decision to ban Ukrainian grain imports was unjustified, amid rising tensions between the two eastern European countries over the dispute.
The European Union announced last week it was ending temporary restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports into five countries, including Poland. But Warsaw said it would continue enforcing the ban unilaterally, angering its war-torn ally and neighbor.
“These tensions are regrettable,” Colonna told AFP in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Citing an EU study, Colonna said that Ukrainian grain imports would not disrupt the market or cripple European farmers.
“There is no market upheaval and there are perhaps internal political considerations on the part of some of our partners which, unfortunately, pushes them to have this position that nothing justifies.”
Tensions rose further Wednesday when Warsaw summoned Ukraine’s ambassador over remarks by Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the UN.
Zelenskyy said some nations feigned solidarity with Ukraine, prompting Warsaw to denounce comments “unjustified concerning Poland, which has supported Ukraine since the first days of the war.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has closed off Black Sea shipping lanes used before the war, resulting in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.
In May, the EU agreed to restrict imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, seeking to protect farmers there who blamed the imports for a slump in prices on local markets.
The measures allowed the products to keep transiting through the five countries, but stopped them being sold on the local market.
On Friday, the European Commission said it was ending the import ban, arguing that “the market distortions in the five member states bordering Ukraine have disappeared.”
Poland, Hungary and Slovakia immediately announced they would defy the move.
Kyiv responded to the bans by vowing to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization.