Polish president on grain dispute: "Ukraine is like a drowning man, it can drag us into the depths"

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On Tuesday 19 September, Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, defended Warsaw's decision to impose unilateral restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, which Kyiv is challenging at the World Trade Organisation.

Source: European Pravda; Polish media outlet PAP citing Duda at a Polish media briefing outside the UN headquarters in New York

Details: The President of Poland compared Ukraine to a drowning man, explaining that "anyone who has ever taken part in rescuing a drowning man knows that he is incredibly dangerous, that he can drag you down to the depths."

Quote: "This is a bit like the situation between Poland and Ukraine. Ukraine is under Russian attack, undoubtedly in a very difficult situation, clutching at whatever he can. Should we be offended by it [Ukraine]? Of course, you can be indignant about it," Duda said.

"Should we act to protect ourselves from being harmed by a drowning man? Of course we must act to protect ourselves from a drowning man causing us harm, because if the drowning man causes us harm and drowns us, he won’t get any help. So we have to look after our own interests, and we will do this effectively and decisively," he said.

Duda also admitted that although he had planned to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he had not been able to "for organisational reasons" - delays in the schedule of leaders’ speeches at the UN General Assembly - but he does not rule out that a meeting will take place later.

On Friday, the European Commission announced that it would not extend restrictions on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine after 15 September, but Kyiv agreed to take measures to limit imports from its side.

However, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have decided to impose unilateral restrictions, with Warsaw saying their restrictions will remain in place indefinitely.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced that Ukraine would request the arbitration of the World Trade Organisation if Poland blocked the export of Ukrainian grain.

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