Poland and Ukraine pledge quick end to political friction

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) – The leaders of Poland and Ukraine pledged on Monday to tackle a thorny political dispute that had hampered their critical wartime alliance and boost defence cooperation as Russia’s invasion grinds towards its third year.

In his first visit to neighbouring Ukraine as prime minister, Poland’s Donald Tusk delivered a message of friendship to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and said both sides “have reached a common understanding” over protests by Polish truckers.

“Poland will do everything to increase Ukraine’s chances of victory in this war,” Tusk said at a joint media briefing.

Warsaw became a key ally for Kyiv as it sought Western financial and military support against Russia, but relations deteriorated in recent months when blockades at the border damaged Ukraine’s economy.

The truckers agreed last week to suspend their protests, which had been aimed at revoking Ukrainian truckers’ permit-free access to the European Union, until March 1.

“We understand the depth of the reasons that led to this kind of situation, but draw attention first and foremost to the depth of the threat that stands before our peoples,” Zelenskiy said, adding that he welcomed Warsaw’s work on the issue.

Both leaders hailed plans between their countries for joint arms production and Zelenskiy said on X that they had discussed “a new form of cooperation aimed at larger-scale arms purchases for Ukrainian needs”. He did not give details.

Poland’s new government is exploring how to make more ammunition and military equipment as part of a new aid package for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said last week.

Tusk’s trip coincides with Ukraine’s Unity Day, which celebrates the unification in 1919 of western and eastern Ukraine, which has faced numerous invasions over its long history.

Zelenskiy marked the day by announcing plans to offer dual Ukrainian citizenship to ethnic Ukrainians and their descendents from all around the world, apart from Russia.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk, Max Hunder, Paweł Florkiewicz, Anna Dabrowska and Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Bernadette Baum, David Goodman and Philippa Fletcher)