Poland/Ukraine – The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine – Andrzej Duda, Gitanas Nausėda, and Volodymyr Zelensky – met on Wednesday, 11 January, in the Ukrainian city of Lviv for a Lublin Triangle summit, where they signed a joint declaration of support for the host country.
“Poland and Lithuania have shown since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that they are friends of Ukraine.
(…) I want to thank the Lithuanians and Poles for taking in refugees, for their military support and for their willingness to stand by us until victory. Ukrainians will remember this help for many years to come. (…) I am grateful to the peoples of Poland and Lithuania for their willingness to stand with us on the road to victory. ”
His Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nausėda, stressed the need to restore Ukrainian territorial integrity: “I remember the last time we met, on 23 February, just hours before the war started. At that time, we knew that a terrorist state could certainly not be peaceful and that war would break out. But at the time,
we probably would never have thought that this war would be so brutal, and that the occupying power would behave like barbarians, and I am not afraid to use that word.
(…) In Lithuania we can disagree on many things, (…) but when it comes to the issue of supporting Ukraine, it is something that unites us. All political parties agree that support for Ukraine must be maximised, that victory must be achieved as fast as possible.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda insisted on Ukraine’s military needs: “We are back in Ukraine today, in Lviv, (…) to look for opportunities to further support Ukraine, on the one hand, by offering such aid as we are ourselves directly in a position to offer as heads of state, but also by offering our support at the international level.”
More importantly, Duda also said that Poland was ready to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine: “We know very well what the Russian occupation means. We support Ukraine, as we have supported it and will continue to do. (…) We will continue to transfer weapons to Ukraine, including as part of the process of modernising the Polish army, which has been hugely accelerated.
A company of Leopard tanks will be transferred as part of the coalition that is being formed.
(…) And we, within the framework of this international coalition, have decided to put in the first tank package, a company of Leopard tanks, which, I hope, in line with other companies of Leopard tanks and other tanks that will be assembled by other countries, will go to Ukraine in the near future and will be able to strengthen the defence of Ukraine. In Poland, the decision has already been made.”
Andrzej Duda and Volodymyr Zelensky then went to the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lwów (the Polish name for Lviv) to lay wreaths both in honour of the Poles who fell defending the city in the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-19 and in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-21 and of the Ukrainian soldiers who have been killed since 2014.
After the ceremony, the Polish head of state met again with representatives of the Polish community in Lviv, while local residents spontaneously gathered to cheer him. An enthusiastic welcome that President Duda dedicated to all his fellow countrymen:
“It was an ovation for the Polish people, not for me. It was a standing ovation for our whole society, for its heart, its openness.
(…) Our Ukrainian neighbours see it and know it. Such friendliness towards the President of Poland, who in their eyes represents the Polish people, is – I hope – for all my compatriots a very moving expression of this.” Shortly after Duda’s announcement Finland too confirmed its willingness to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine, and the UK has said that it will transfer to the Ukrainian military a dozen of its own Challenger II main battle tanks.