WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife arrived in Poland Wednesday for a state visit that is meant as a gesture of thanks to the neighboring nation for its crucial support in Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.
The visit is a rare foray for Zelenskyy out of Ukraine since Russia unleased the war in February 2022. While it follows visits to the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, it stands out from the others because it was announced in advance without the secrecy of past visits.
It is also unusual that the president is joined by the first lady, Olena Zelenska. Marcin Przydacz, the head of Polish President Andrzej Duda’s foreign policy office, described it as Zelenskyy’s first visit of this kind since the war began.
He said that Zelenskyy had already crossed the Polish border ahead of a morning meeting with Duda. Zelenskyy will also meet with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the afternoon, and he is due 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 humanitarian aid and weapons to transit into Ukraine.
But Zelenskyy’s visit also comes at a delicate time, with Polish farmers growing increasingly angry because Ukrainian grain that has entered Poland has created a glut, causing prices to fall.
The grain is only meant to be stored and transit through Poland to reach international markets, but farmers in Poland say the grain is instead staying in Poland, taking up space in silos and entering local markets, causing local prices to fall for the farmers. Romanian and Bulgarian farmers say they are facing the same problem.