The stunt was intended as a rebuke to Kiev, which is suing Warsaw for imposing a ban on Ukrainian grain imports
A Polish MP issued a 'bill' for $23 billion to the Ukrainian embassy on Tuesday, suggesting that Kiev should repay the aid it has received after suing Warsaw for imposing a ban on grain imports from the country.
The politician behind the stunt was Krzysztof Bosak, whose National Movement party is part of the right-wing Confederation Liberty and Independence bloc in the Polish parliament.
The 'bill' listed various kinds of assistance provided directly to Kiev by the Polish government, social benefits paid to Ukrainian refugees, and private donations made by Polish nationals, as calculated by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The total amount is likely "significantly underestimated and incomplete," Bosak noted.
Ukraine has sued Poland before the World Trade Organization (WTO) and threatened to introduce trade restrictions in retaliation for imposing a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain. This was previously prohibited by the EU, but temporary restrictions expired earlier this month. Warsaw opted to introduce a national ban instead, insisting that it needed to protect Polish farmers from Ukrainian competition.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky apparently snubbed Poland and its fellow EU member states Hungary and Slovakia, which have similar policies, during a speech at the UN General Assembly this week. He claimed that some European nations that are publicly friendly to Ukraine "play out solidarity" while indirectly "helping set the stage to a Moscow actor."
The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned Ukrainian Ambassador Vasil Zvarich on Wednesday to protest over the "unjustified" remark. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on the same day that Warsaw would no longer send weapons to Kiev because it needed to prioritize its own military modernization.
Confederation members will compete with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party for nationalist votes in a general election next month. The political bloc has criticized the government for cozying up to Kiev amid its armed conflict with Russia, arguing that the policy has obviously backfired.
"We need to start playing tough, like the Ukrainian oligarchs play, who are represented by Ukrainian politicians," Bosak said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, Brussels is reportedly considering taking the side of the EU member states in the WTO case. The European Commission is seeking to "coordinate" the three nations' legal rebuttals to the suit, according to a letter cited by the Financial Times on Thursday, despite initially demanding a reversal of the grain bans.