WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife arrived in Poland on Wednesday for a state visit intended as a gesture of thanks to the neighboring nation for its crucial support in defending Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
The visit is a rare foray by Zelenskyy out of Ukraine since Russia unleashed war in February 2022. While it follows visits to the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, it stands out from the rest because it was announced ahead of time without the secret. of past visits.
It is also unusual for the president to be accompanied by the first lady, Olena Zelenska. Marcin Przydacz, head of Polish President Andrzej Duda’s foreign policy office, described it as Zelenskyy’s first such visit since the war began.
He said that Zelenskyy had already crossed the Polish border before a morning meeting with Duda. Zelenskyy will also meet Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the afternoon, and is scheduled to meet some of the Ukrainians who have found refuge in Poland.
Warsaw has been a key ally for Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, welcoming large numbers of refugees and becoming a hub for the transit of humanitarian aid and weapons into Ukraine.
But Zelenskyy’s visit also comes at a sensitive time, with Polish farmers increasingly angry that Ukrainian grain entering Poland has created a glut, sending prices tumbling.
The grain is only meant to be stored and transited through Poland to reach international markets, but farmers in Poland say the grain instead stays in Poland, taking up space in silos and entering local markets, which it drives down local prices for farmers. Romanian and Bulgarian farmers say they face the same problem.