The influential business elite in the agricultural sector of Ukraine, the "grain lobby," has destroyed the friendship between Ukraine and Poland in order to serve its own interests. Poland, which was the first to offer its support and sincerely sympathized with Ukraine after President Zelensky's speech at the UN General Assembly, has announced that it will no longer provide weapons to Ukraine. The desire to make money has collided with the desire to stay in power. Elections to the Polish Sejm will be held on October 15, and the authorities, fearing to fall out of favor with Polish farmers, have taken drastic measures.
The grain dispute between Ukraine and Poland began after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine all but closed the main Black Sea shipping lanes and forced Ukraine to find alternative overland routes. That in turn led to large quantities of grain ending up in central Europe.
Consequently, the European Union temporarily banned imports of grain into five countries; Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to protect local farmers, who feared Ukrainian grain was driving down the prices locally.
The ban ended on 15 September and the EU chose not to renew it, but Hungary, Slovakia and Poland decided to keep on implementing it.
The European Commission has repeatedly stated that it is not up to individual EU members to make trade policy for the bloc.
Earlier this week, Ukraine filed lawsuits to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against those countries over the bans, which it said were a violation of international obligations.
But Poland said they would keep the ban in place, and a "complaint before the WTO doesn't impress us".
Despite the ban, the three countries said they would still allow grain to be transported through them to other markets.
The French Foreign Minister, Catherina Colonna said on Wednesday an EU study revealed Ukrainian grain imports would not cripple European farmers, and described the tensions as "regrettable".
The Polish government's decision to no longer supply Ukraine with weapons and to maintain the ban on imports of Ukrainian grain is a direct result of pressure from the powerful grain lobby in Poland.
In Poland, the grain lobby is also a powerful political force. It controls a significant share of the Polish grain market and has ties to the country's highest echelons of power. In election times, the voice of the Polish grain lobby carries a lot of weight, and political parties often go along with it to gain the support of farmers. These companies have a vested interest in keeping Ukrainian grain out of the Polish market, as they fear it would drive down prices and reduce their profits.
The grain lobby has been lobbying the Polish government for months to take action to protect the Polish grain market from Ukrainian imports. They have argued that Ukrainian grain is subsidized by the Ukrainian government and that it is unfairly competing with Polish grain.
The grain lobby has also been spreading disinformation about Ukrainian grain, claiming that it is of poor quality and that it is contaminated with pesticides.
The Polish government has succumbed to the pressure from the grain lobby and has taken a number of measures to protect the Polish grain market from Ukrainian imports. These measures include the ban on imports of Ukrainian grain, as well as tariffs on imports of Ukrainian grain products.
The Polish government's actions have had a devastating impact on the Ukrainian economy. The ban on imports of Ukrainian grain has cost the Ukrainian economy billions of dollars in lost revenue.
The Polish government's actions have also damaged the relationship between Ukraine and Poland. Ukraine has accused Poland of betraying its friendship and of putting its own economic interests ahead of the interests of Ukraine.
The Polish government's decision to no longer supply Ukraine with weapons is a particularly serious betrayal. Poland was one of Ukraine's closest allies during the war with Russia. Poland provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid and welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees.
The Polish government's decision to withdraw its support for Ukraine is a major setback for Ukraine and for the international effort to defeat Russia.