Expert: Tensions in Poland over Ukraine show influence of domestic politics

Kristi Raik.
Kristi Raik. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Tensions that have flared between neighboring countries Poland and Ukraine are a reminder of how the internal politics in Western countries can affect support for Ukraine, security expert Kristi Raik said.

Appearing on ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" Sunday, Raik said: "Unfortunately, what held the most attention this week is the flare-up of tensions between Poland and Ukraine."

"The Western media also rushed to present the Polish Prime Minister's speech about aid to Ukraine as being a clear signal that Poland will now stop providing weapons aid to Ukraine, which is actually not the case. But what is clear is the reminder we got of the fact that the internal politics in various Western countries can impact support given to Ukraine," Raik added.

Raik noted that Poland has a general election coming up in three weeks' time, while the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is in a difficult situation and is trying to show that it stands for the interests of, for instance, farmers in Poland.

Numerous meetings were held at last week's UN General Assembly meeting in New York, and also in Washington, where the resilience of the pro-Ukraine coalition was put to the test, Raik note.

While Ukraine has never been able to take support for granted, a situation has been arising where support for Ukraine has been constantly increasing to the extent the EU nations have been expressing more support than the U.S., Raik said.

"It also seems to me that the leadership in most Western countries comprehends that Ukraine needs long-term support, that this war will not end soon, and that efforts are being made to make political decisions both in the EU and the U.S. which would ensure that this support continues in the following years, regardless of what kind of internal political changes there may be in those countries during that time," she added.

According to Raik, it can be seen that the political debate is held in all directions and there are also those voices that state that too much support is given to Ukraine. "In the case of public opinion, this trend is also a bit negative at the moment, just as the last Eurobarometer survey in the EU showed that the willingness and desire to support Ukraine in Europe has fallen somewhat. It is still quite high, but unfortunately, the direction is downwards, and fatigue is observable."

This exchange of words with Poland represents a continuation of sour feelings and demonstrates that some kind of cracks appeared in the veneer of relations between Poland and Ukraine, but also in relations between the Western nations.

Raik added that Poland will nonetheless continue to support Ukraine, not the least because so doing concerns Poland's own security as a border nation.

"This is not done out of altruism, it is done for the sake of their own security, just as the Baltic states too do so for the sake of their own security," Raik added.

Raik also said that if other countries have been getting the impression that the support from Poland to Ukraine is no longer as strong as it had been, the risk is that this provides wavering nations or their leadership with the "excuse" not to be as firm in that support, either.

As for the largest Western and NATO nation, the U.S., Raik said that while uncertainty remains about how next year's presidential election might pan out and how this might affect the America's support for Ukraine, she tends to think that the Putin regime in Russia is pinning its hopes a little too much on an outcome favorable to them actually transpiring, whoever wins the election.

A recent dispute over grain exports from Ukraine entering the market led yesterday to Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy never to "insult Poles again" after the latter implied the issue was just being put on for show.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: 'Ukraina stuudio,' interviewer Epp Ehand.

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