Warsaw will gradually phase out financial assistance to Ukrainian refugees starting from the first quarter of 2024, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Muller said in an interview with PAP news agency on Wednesday.
- “These decisions [on financial aid], which were adopted after the start of the war, are temporary, and that’s all I can say,” Muller said in response to a question about how long Ukrainian refugees can expect to receive financial aid from the Polish government.
The spokesman explained that the stage in which Ukrainians were fleeing en masse from their country has already passed, and therefore the financial assistance will be phased out.
He added that the legal act under which financial aid was being provided is set to expire in the first quarter of next year.
- According to various estimates, as many as 5.7 million people from Ukraine fled to Poland since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is believed that there are still as many as 1 million Ukrainian refugees living in Poland.
Muller’s comments come amid deteriorating relations between Poland and Ukraine, sparked by a disagreement over grain exports.
- On Tuesday, the spokesman stressed that Warsaw has no desire to sacrifice its national interests for Ukraine and predicted that relations between the two countries will be “difficult” in the near future.
- Poland, along with Slovakia and Hungary, unilaterally extended an embargo on Ukrainian grain last month to prevent it from “flooding” the market and destabilizing it – despite a decision by the European Council to lift export restrictions on grain from Ukraine.
Kiev argued that the import ban is illegal and filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the three EU states.
Additionally, despite Poland being one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters throughout the conflict, President Vladimir Zelensky publicly accused Polish officials of “playing out solidarity in a political theater.” He even suggested that Warsaw’s grain ban was “helping” Russia.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has since stated that mending ties between Kiev and Warsaw will require a “titanic effort,” and that trust in Ukraine among Poles was “shaken” by Ukraine’s WTO complaint and Zelensky’s comments.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has described Kiev as “a drowning man” that risks dragging those trying to rescue him under the water.