• Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced a new military aid package during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  • The leaders addressed issues between their countries, such as grain shipments and trucking, aiming to resolve differences through talks.
  • Tusk emphasized the broader significance of the conflict, framing it as a struggle between Europe and Russia with implications beyond Ukraine.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk vowed Monday to keep supporting Ukraine against Russia’s nearly 2-year-old invasion, announcing a new military aid package that includes a loan to buy larger weapons and a commitment to find ways to manufacture them together.

Meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Tusk said they had reached “an understanding” to resolve through talks any differences between their countries over grain shipments and trucking. Those issues recently soured ties between the neighbors.

Ukraine’s allies have recently sought to reassure the country that they are committed to its long-term defense amid concerns that Western support could be flagging. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and France’s new foreign minister also traveled to Kyiv in the new year.

POLAND’S PRIME MINISTER APPOINTS NEW HEADS OF STATE SECURITY

Tusk, who returned to power last month and is keen to show that a change in government won’t alter its Ukraine policy, also met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal.

Donald Tusk speaks

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk is seen during his and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with students in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Kyiv was the first foreign capital he visited since becoming prime minister again, Tusk said. He returned to Polish politics after serving as president of the European Council — one of the European Union’s top jobs.

He framed the war as a wider struggle between Europe and Russia that had repercussions beyond Ukraine, making it a priority for Poland.

“Today Ukraine is shouldering the security matters of the entire European continent, today Ukraine is paying the huge price of blood for the values that are fundamental to the free world,” he said. “Poland’s security is also at stake in this struggle.”

POLISH PRIME MINISTER TUSK SWORN IN, REPLACING CONSERVATIVE PARTY AFTER 8 YEARS

Zelenskyy described the talks as “very productive” and said Poland’s new military aid would include a loan allowing Ukraine to purchase big-ticket weapons. They also assessed opportunities for joint arms production, he said, in line with similar discussions with other allies.

Tusk’s visit came a day after Moscow-installed officials in eastern Ukraine reported that Ukrainian shelling killed 27 people on the outskirts of Russian-occupied Donetsk. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it a “monstrous terrorist act,” and the Russia-backed local authorities declared a day of mourning.

The Ukrainian military, however, denied it had anything to do with the attack.

It was not immediately possible to verify either side’s claims.

Located on NATO’s eastern flank, Poland has been one of Ukraine’s strongest allies. Warsaw has provided weapons and humanitarian aid, and opened its borders to Ukrainian refugees since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.

But relations soured last year as economic competition from Ukrainian food producers and truckers angered Poles who said their livelihoods were under threat. Polish farmers and truckers blocked border crossings, causing backups and threatening the flow of some aid to Ukraine.

Polish farmers complained that imports of Ukrainian foods had caused prices to fall, hurting their incomes, while truckers said they were being undercut by their Ukrainian counterparts. The issue surfaced during the war as Ukrainian ports were blocked and food producers turned to road routes through Europe to get their products to market.

At one point, Poland and some other European nations banned Ukrainian grain imports because of the trade dispute.

Poland’s farmers and trucks have ended the protests for now. Tusk has said Warsaw wants to help Ukraine economically but not at the expense of Polish businesses. He has previously suggested that Kyiv needs to better regulate its trucking industry.

Tusk was also scheduled to honor the country’s fighters and attend observances of Ukraine’s Day of Unity, which commemorates the merger in 1919 that brought together its eastern and western regions.

As part of the celebration, Zelenskyy signed a decree that, among other things, instructs the government to preserve the national identity of Ukrainians living in border regions that are now part of Russia, such as Belgorod, Kursk and Briansk. Some of those areas have recently been targeted by Kyiv’s forces.

The decree also aims to establish a center for investigating crimes against Ukrainians on those territories, including forced Russification, political persecutions, and deportations.

POLAND’S PRESIDENT AND NEW PRIME MINISTER REMAIN DIVIDED ON RULE OF LAW DESPITE TALKS

In other war-related developments, Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted all eight Shahed drones that Russia launched overnight over southern and central regions of Ukraine.

Debris from three drones shot down over the central Dnipropetrovsk region started a fire at an unidentified business but no casualties were reported.

Elsewhere, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Kharkiv on the third day of his tour of the country. The second-largest city was among the targets of a Jan. 16 Russian missile attack that injured 17 civilians.

Later, Grandi visited children at a school that has relocated to the city’s subway system.

Meanwhile, major Ukrainian digital banking platform Monobank said it came under a massive denial-of-service attack by unidentified hackers. The attack was successfully repelled, the bank said, with no major consequences.

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