Poland condemns “silence in western Europe” over Russia’s deportations of Ukrainians

Poland’s prime minister has, during a visit to Kyiv, criticised western European countries for failing to speak out against Russia’s mass deportation of people from Ukraine. He also pledged to make Poland an “economic hub for Ukraine”, including by facilitating the grain exports.

“The entire international community – if it wants to consider itself free, democratic, law-abiding – should speak out much more loudly for those Ukrainian citizens who have been deported deep into Russia,” said Mateusz Morawiecki. “This is an exceptional crime, about which there is almost complete silence in western Europe.”

Morawiecki noted Poles’ own traumatic experience of deportations to Siberia at the hands of Russia and the Soviet Union in the past. “This criminal practice should be strongly condemned, and yet has not been,” he declared, quoted by Interia.

Last month, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman claimed that almost 1.2 million Ukrainians have been deported to Russia, including over 200,000 children. The Biden administration also announced that it has “indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia”.

Morawiecki’s remarks came as he led a Polish government delegation to Kyiv – the first time Ukraine has hosted such intergovernmental talks with another country since Russia’s invasion in February. Among those to attend were Poland’s interior, culture, environment and state assets ministers.

Another was Jarosław Kaczyński, Poland’s deputy prime minister and chairman of the ruling party. Speaking after the talks, Kaczyński noted that Poland and Ukraine have a “difficult history”, but that “today there is the chance to create something completely new”.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced during yesterday’s visit that eight agreements had been signed on cooperation in the fields of energy, defence, customs controls, the environment, and national remembrance.

Zelensky announces “historic” joint customs control on border with Poland

President Volodymyr Zelensky also presented Morawiecki and Kaczyński with Ukrainian state honours. “He awarded our true friends, our brothers, for their constant help both before and after the beginning of the war,” said Shmyhal, quoted by Interia.

Since the start of the war, Poland has been one of Ukraine’s strongest and most vocal advocates on the international stage, calling for greater economic, military and humanitarian support for Kyiv and for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking yesterday, Morawiecki declared that “Poland will be an economic hub for independent Ukraine”. This will include “improving infrastructure to increase capacity that will enable the export of grain [from Ukraine] to the Middle East, Africa and other countries”.

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports has made it difficult for the country, normally one of the world’s largest grain exports, to transport produce. This week, Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Egypt, a major grain importer, to discuss efforts to unblock exports.

Polish president visits Egypt hoping to unblock Ukrainian grain exports

Main image credit: Krystian Maj/KPRM (under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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