(Warsaw) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky began his first official visit to Poland, a major ally, on Wednesday to thank it for its help in the face of the Russian invasion and to discuss future security and economic relations.
The visit, whose detailed program was kept secret until the last moment, began with a welcome ceremony on red carpets rolled out in front of the presidential palace, to the sound of a military orchestra.
Housed in a hotel adjacent to the headquarters of Polish President Andrzej Duda, Mr. Zelensky, dressed in his traditional military attire and accompanied by his wife, traveled the fifty meters in his limousine, surrounded by an important security device.
A joint press conference by Mr. Zelensky with his Polish counterpart is scheduled for 12:50 p.m. ‘East).
Spokesman for the President of Ukraine, Sergiy Nykyforov, clarified that the visit of Mr. Zelensky and his wife “includes discussions with (Polish) President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the signing of bilateral documents” .
According to him, the Ukrainian head of state will meet with representatives of Polish companies at a Ukrainian-Polish business forum, the presidents of both houses of parliament, volunteers and rescuers, as well as mayors of cities located along the border with Ukraine.
“In the evening, Volodymyr Zelensky will address Poles and Ukrainians living in Poland with a great speech,” Nykyforov said. “It is indeed the first visit of the Ukrainian President to Poland, because (so far) we have been used to traveling through its territory to other countries,” the spokesperson stressed.
Warsaw is the fifth world capital visited by Mr. Zelensky since the beginning of the Russian invasion of his country, in February 2022, after Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.
This is the sixth meeting between the Polish and Ukrainian heads of state in this period of war, including two working meetings in Poland, on the border between the two countries.
“Defense is a primary topic of the visit, obviously. We will talk about defence, the economy, cross-border traffic, including rail connections, and expanding border crossing opportunities,” the spokesperson stressed.
“We will talk a lot about the economy, both at the state level and when meeting with companies. We will talk about our European affairs, sanctions” against Russia, Nykyforov said.
According to Marcin Przydacz, an adviser to the Polish presidency, it will be a question of drawing up “a plan for the future, so that Polish businessmen […] can carry out their projects in Ukraine”, in particular with regard to of the reconstruction of this country after the end of the war.
For some time now, Poland has been experiencing beaded demonstrations by farmers protesting against the massive imports of Ukrainian wheat, which have destabilized the local market.
On Wednesday, under this pressure, the Polish Minister of Agriculture, Henryk Kowalczyk, announced his resignation.
The heads of state will also address delicate “historical issues” between the two countries, dating mainly from the times of the Second World War, added the adviser to the Polish president.
Warsaw announced on Monday that it had delivered the first promised MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, just after Slovakia.
Poland also delivered 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Kyiv in February-March, as well as a lot of other equipment.
At the start of the Russian invasion, the Poles took in massive numbers of Ukrainian refugees.