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Poland and Ukraine to put their differences aside amid 'titanic struggle' against Russia

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shakes hands with Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorsk in Kyiv, 22 December 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shakes hands with Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorsk in Kyiv, 22 December 2023 Copyright Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Copyright Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
By AP
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Sikorski's trip comes against a backdrop of crumbling Western support for Kyiv both in Europe and the US — a trend welcomed by the Kremlin.

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During a trip to Kyiv on Friday, Poland's new head of diplomacy showcased his determination to put an end to tensions between his country and Ukraine, pledging to support the latter in its "titanic struggle" against Russia.

Poland is one of Ukraine's main supporters in Europe, but relations between the two neighbouring states have been strained by trade disputes in recent months. 

The tide seems to have been turned with the recent arrival in power of the pro-European bloc in Warsaw.

Poland's new Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski made his first trip abroad to visit his Ukrainian ally to underline Poland's continued support for Kyiv.

Sikorski told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, "Poland is on your side in this titanic struggle", criticising Russia for "bombing cities, destroying entire provinces, deporting children and preparing to annihilate a neighbour that has done nothing wrong".

The Polish minister called on Brussels and Washington to "mobilise" their economies and means of production to arm Ukraine, stressing that Russia had "switched to a war economy".

"We cannot allow Russia to produce more based on a much smaller economy (...) If the West mobilises, I have no doubt it will win, but it must finally start mobilising" Sikorski told journalists.

He also felt that the "deadlock" in the situation on the front — using an expression coined by the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zaluzhnyi — was a "test" for the friendship between Kyiv and Warsaw.

Lorry drivers' border blockade to be solved?

While describing Sikorski's visit as a "sign of friendship", Kuleba said he hoped to find a solution to the main source of tension between their two countries: the Polish lorry drivers' border blockade.

Polish lorry drivers have been blocking several crossings since early November to protest against "unfair competition" from their Ukrainian colleagues, which Kyiv claims has cost Ukraine hundreds of millions of euros.

"The first thing to do is to unblock the border, because the situation in which our friendly relations find themselves, in the shadow of the blocked border, is unacceptable and damaging", Kuleba hammered home on Friday.

At the same time, Kuleba welcomed the choice of Kyiv for Sikorski's first trip after his appointment. "It is a sign of respect for Ukraine", he said, insisting that their two countries have "a common enemy".

Sikorski's trip comes against a backdrop of crumbling Western support for Kyiv both in Europe and the US — a trend that the Kremlin welcomes.

However, Poland's top diplomat emphasised his country's continued backing of Ukraine and domestic unity on the issue.

"Russia must lose and Ukraine must win. And, on this issue, regardless of who will be in power in Poland, as you can see, we are united", Sikorski said.

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