On a visit to neighboring Poland on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed the nation for its “historic” support and urged it to play a significant role in the extensive reconstruction work that will be required once Russia’s invasion is over.

Warsaw has established itself as one of Kyiv’s most faithful allies by taking the initiative to convince occasionally reticent partners to give it heavy weaponry, much of which was delivered through Poland. President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday that Poland would give Ukraine a total of 14 MiG-29 fighter planes.

“You have stood shoulder to shoulder with us, and we are grateful for it,” Zelenskiy said after receiving the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honor, from his Polish counterpart. “I believe these are historic relations, a historic result, and historic strength between our countries.”

President Joe Biden recently pledged “unwavering” U.S. support for Kiev in front of large crowds at Warsaw’s Royal Castle. Afterward, Duda warned that Poland and other allies needed to offer greater financial, military, and humanitarian support.

“There is still a long way to go before the end of the war,” he said. “We owe it to the victims of aggression.”

Zelenskiy projected that Poland would aid in the formation of a coalition of Western powers to provide jets to Ukraine, just as it did with battle tanks, while speaking to the same supporters, many of whom were waving Ukrainian flags.

“When the battle requires artillery, it should be provided. When victory needs tanks, their roar should be heard on the front lines,” he said. “Because this is a battle for freedom and it is impossible to win partially.”

During a meeting where they talked about ways to solve issues brought on by Ukrainian grain entering European markets and driving down prices, Zelenskiy and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed a letter of intent regarding the transfer of equipment, including 150 Rosomak armored vehicles, to Ukraine.

“We have found a way out. I believe that in the coming days and weeks we will finally resolve all issues as there cannot be any questions, any complications between such close partners and real friends as Poland and Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said. 

“We discussed issues regarding our farmers, Polish farmers and Ukrainian farmers.”

In response to the problem, Henryk Kowalczk, the Polish Minister of Agriculture, resigned on Wednesday.

Zelenskiy asked Polish businesses to visit Ukraine before the war is over in order to gain a stronger foothold on Ukrainian markets and in the nation’s restoration drive.

Military Aid

The visit to Poland comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive in the upcoming weeks or months to retake territory in its east and south from Russia. Poland has hosted more than a million Ukrainian refugees throughout the course of the war’s 13-month duration.

On Wednesday, Zelenskiy stated that the situation in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine, was extremely tough and that “corresponding decisions” would be made if Kiev’s troops there ran the prospect of being surrounded by Russian forces.

“For me, the most important is not to lose our soldiers, and of course, if there is a moment of even hotter events and the danger we could lose our personnel because of encirclement – of course the corresponding correct decisions will be taken by generals there,” he said.

Ukraine officials have pushed for F-16 jet fighters in addition to MiG-29 aircraft to strengthen Kiev’s ability to attack Russian missile bases with US rockets, but Marcin Przydacz, Duda’s foreign policy adviser, indicated Poland would not make a decision regarding the dispatch of any anytime soon.

The majority of Poles back the Ukrainians in their conflict with Russia. According to an Ipsos poll, 82% of Poles believe NATO and EU nations should support Ukraine until it triumphs.

Olena, a 46-year-old Ukrainian refugee, gave a thumbs up before sobbing when asked what Zelenskiy’s visit meant to her.

“If it weren’t for him there would be no Ukraine by now,” she said while passing the presidential palace, adding that she was grateful to Poland for being able to stay and work in the country.


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