Poland and Ukraine announced on Tuesday that they had agreed to accelerate the transfer of Ukrainian grain exports that pass-through Poland to a third country, in a first step towards resolving the grain conflict between the two sides.
The step is the most prominent progress achieved in the issue since Poland’s imposition of a ban on Ukrainian grain imports sparked a diplomatic controversy between the two allied countries.
The Polish government, which is preparing for general elections on October 15, said that the aim of the ban was to protect local farmers from the collapse of grain prices.
Ukrainian grain exports that pass-through Poland on their way to global markets in Africa and the Middle East in particular are still allowed.
Under Tuesday’s agreement, also related to Lithuania, part of Ukrainian grain intended for global markets will pass directly from Poland without undergoing quality checks at the Polish border.
“We agreed on an important issue,” Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus told reporters after holding an online meeting with ministers from Ukraine and Lithuania.
He added, “As of tomorrow (Wednesday), grain exports (bound to global markets) via Lithuania will be subject to checking procedures at a Lithuanian port and not at the Polish-Ukrainian border”.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture, in turn, confirmed that the agreement will accelerate the grains transportation through Poland”.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture added in statement that Ukraine and Lithuania support this control mechanism and consider it a constructive step.
After the ban imposed by Russia on Ukrainian ports overlooking the Black Sea, which is the main route for its exports, the European Union canceled customs duties imposed on Ukrainian grain in May 2022 so that it could be transported to global markets by land through the bloc’s countries.
But logistical problems led to an accumulation of grains in the European Union countries neighboring Ukraine, which subsequently led to a decline in prices locally.
The European Union allowed several countries to impose a temporary embargo on Ukrainian grain, on the condition that transport routes remain open.
Brussels ended these restrictions in mid-September, and Kiev pledged to strengthen control of the flow of exports on its part.
But Poland, Hungary and Slovakia unilaterally extended the embargo, prompting Kiev to file a lawsuit against the three countries before the World Trade Organization.
Negotiations have begun on allowing Ukrainian grain to enter the Polish domestic market, but they are progressing slowly.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reported on September 28 that the grain war was harming both countries.
“We delivered clear messages to Poland about our commitment to a constructive solution,” he told Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
“We don’t need this grain war as is the case with Poland,” he added.
Poland has been considered one of Ukraine’s most prominent supporters since Russia invaded the latter in February 2022 and is one of Kiev’s most important arms suppliers.