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Polish-Ukrainian summit held against backdrop of tensions with Russia

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Poland/Ukraine – Polish President Andrzej Duda received his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, at his residence in Wisła (near Cieszyn, Silesia) on 20-21 January. The two heads of state mainly discussed security issues resulting from the growing tensions between Ukraine, NATO, and Russia.

Supporting Ukraine one of Poland’s top priorities

The head of the Polish President’s National Security Office, Paweł Soloch, insisted on the importance of the presidents’ meeting in the current situation:

Supporting Ukraine is currently one of the main priorities of Andrzej Duda’s policy

(…) We want to know more about the Ukrainian side’s viewpoint regarding how things can evolve in the coming days and in the long run (…) I would like to remind you that President Zelensky met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The visit of such a high-level representative of the U.S. administration to Kiev is a very strong signal of support for Ukraine from the United States. Poland is also conducting intensive consultations with its allies and in European forums on this issue.

Ukraine grateful for Polish support 

For his part, the Ukrainian president said on Twitter that he felt

grateful to the Polish people and Andrzej Duda for consistently supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Such support is especially important in these hard times. Glad that we are working together to confront the security challenges in the region.”

Lublin Triangle Summit last December 

Duda’s meeting with Zelensky was a follow-up to the 20 December Lublin Triangle summit between the presidents of Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania at Residence Syniohora in Ukraine. The three heads of state then signed a joint declaration expressing formal support for Ukrainian EU and NATO membership and once again condemned Russia’s behaviour, as Moscow continues to support the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Up to one million refugees from a Russian attack on Ukraine?

In this atmosphere of growing tensions between Kiev and Moscow in which military action by Russia against Ukraine is not being ruled out by the Polish authorities, the director of the Migration Research Centre at Warsaw University, Maciej Duszczyk, is of the opinion that

If Russia also occupies Kiev, it is to be expected that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees will arrive on Polish territory

(…) If this happens, a state of emergency with all its legal consequences will have to be declared. Poland will not be able to cope with this huge wave of migrants on its own, so it will urgently need help from the European Union. Some of the refugees will have to be relocated in other countries.

According to various sources, Poland already hosts somewhere between 1 and 3 million Ukrainian citizens, taking into account both legal and illegal immigrants. Migrating to Poland is quite easy for Ukrainians due to their linguistic and cultural proximity and the two countries’ common border, and Ukrainian emigration to Poland has increased very significantly since the Euromaidan revolution in 2014.