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(CNN) -- Poland said on Wednesday it will stop supplying weapons to Ukraine amid an escalating dispute between the two countries over a temporary ban on Ukrainian grain imports.
"We no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on social media.
Poland has long been one of Ukraine's staunchest supporters since Moscow's invasion of its neighbor, alongside multiple former Eastern bloc nations that fear they will be next if Russian President Vladimir Putin's expansionist war succeeds.
Now, Kyiv and Warsaw are at odds.
The ban on importing Ukrainian grain was initially imposed earlier this year by several European Union countries to protect local farmers, concerned about low Ukrainian grain prices.
- Poland and Hungary ban Ukrainian grains in the face of the surplus of the neighboring country
Last week, the European Union announced its intention to suspend the ban. But three countries — Poland, Hungary and Slovakia — signaled their intention to challenge the change and maintain the restrictions.
This sparked protests from Ukraine, which this week filed lawsuits against the three countries over the issue.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke out against the ban on Wednesday as he addressed the UN General Assembly, saying "it is alarming to see how some in Europe, some of our friends in Europe, play solidarity in a political theater by making a thriller of the grain."
He added that the nations involved "may appear to be playing their own role, but in reality they are helping to set the stage for a Moscow actor."
Zelensky's comments drew immediate condemnation from Poland, whose Foreign Ministry summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in Warsaw to convey its "strong protest."
Polish Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told the Ukrainian ambassador that Zelensky's claim was "false," especially since Poland had been "supporting Ukraine since the first days of the war."
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A truck with corn is seen at a grain warehouse in the village of Bilohiria, Ukraine, on April 19, 2023. (Credit: Gleb Garanich/Reuters/FILE)
He added that "pressuring Poland in multilateral forums or submitting complaints to international courts are not appropriate methods for resolving disputes between our countries," according to a ministry statement.
In a television interview, Prime Minister Morawiecki said he would not risk destabilizing the Polish market by accepting Ukrainian grain imports, but would not prevent passage through Poland, Polish national news agency PAP reported.
"Of course we will maintain the transit of Ukrainian goods. Poland bears no cost for this. On the contrary, it could be said that we won from it," Morawiecki said, according to PAP.
Morawiecki also accused Ukrainian oligarchs of having "introduced their grain into the Polish market" without concern for local farmers, and said Poland will now focus on supplying "the most modern weapons" for its own purposes, PAP reported.
"If they want to defend themselves they have to have something to defend themselves with," Morawiecki said.
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Warsaw has taken the lead among NATO allies in supplying heavy weaponry to Kyiv. In the spring, Poland became the first NATO country to send fighter jets to Ukraine, months before the United States, which did not approve the transfer of F-16 fighters until last month, pending the completion of Ukrainian forces' training.
Poland has also previously sent more than 200 Soviet-style tanks to Ukraine. Most Western military hardware and other supplies arrive in Ukraine through Poland and the country hosts 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees, according to the United Nations.
According to the Kiel Institute, Poland has pledged 4.270 billion euros ($4.540 billion) in military, financial and humanitarian aid.
Polish President Andrzej Duda also urged greater unity and action at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, on Wednesday.
"If we do not act in solidarity today, to defend the fundamental values of international law, tomorrow may be too late," he said, adding that the "strategic shift" that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not temporary.
"We live in a new era of uncertainty," Duda said.
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