Ukraine’s Zelensky on official visit to Poland; aims to boost ties with key western ally


Zelensky will meet President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the trip, and speak to Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in neighbouring Poland on Wednesday, a Polish presidential aide said, for an official visit to a close ally that has galvanised Western military and political support for Kyiv.

The visit to Poland, which has taken in more than a million Ukrainian refugees over the past 13 months of war, comes as Ukraine plans to conduct a counter-offensive in the coming weeks or months to recapture land in its east and south from Russia.

Zelenskiy will meet President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the trip, and speak to Ukrainian refugees and Polish members of the public as well as business leaders who could be involved in rebuilding Ukraine.

“I can say that President Zelenskiy has crossed the Polish border,” presidential aide Marcin Przydacz told private broadcaster TVN24 on Wednesday.

In televised comments on Tuesday, Przydacz had said the visit “should be taken as a sign of trust and of thanking Poland and Poles”.

As well as welcoming refugees, the NATO member has played an important role in persuading other Western powers to supply battle tanks and other weaponry to Ukraine.

Military deliveries have been vital for Ukraine to fend off and fight back Russian forces that poured over the Ukrainian border in February 2022. Swathes of Ukraine remain occupied in the south and the east.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Tuesday that Kyiv was grateful to Poland for clearing the way for deliveries of MiG fighter jets.

Ukraine officials have also pressed for F-16 jet fighters to boost Kyiv’s ability to hit Russian missile units with U.S.-made rockets but Przydacz said Poland would not decide any time soon on whether to send any.

“F-16s are protecting Poland’s skies.” he said. “There are absolutely no such decisions at this stage.”

Polish officials had also said talks would focus on developments on Ukrainian front lines, international support and economic cooperation.

Ukraine’s presidential office, which avoids mentioning Zelenskiy’s travel plans in advance for security reasons, did not outline anything about the trip or what it would focus on.

The Polish public overwhelming supports Ukrainians in their war with Russia. An Ipsos poll said 82% of Poles think NATO and European Union countries should back Ukraine until it wins.

Nonetheless, Zelenskiy’s visit takes place amid mounting anger in rural Poland over the impact of imports of Ukrainian grain, which have pushed down prices in several states in the EU’s eastern wing — something the Polish prime minister had said would come under discussion.

Tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural imports may need to be reintroduced if an influx of products pushing down prices in European Union markets cannot be halted by other means, the premiers of five eastern states said in a letter published on Friday to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.