By Jack Laurenson
KYIV – In Kyiv last week, following events to mark the anniversary of the signing of Poland's constitution, First Vice Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv highlighted a deepening bond and improving relationship between the two countries.
Minister Kubiv – responsible for economic development and trade – was attending celebrations in the Ukrainian capital when he said that Poland remains an important strategic partner for his country.
“Poland is a strategic trading partner for Ukraine,” he said in a statement via his press service.
“We also thank them for their consistent and unchanged support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as [our] Euro-integration and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” the minister added.
According to the latest official statistics, bilateral trade between Ukraine and Poland has increased significantly in the past year. Amounting to $6.5 billion in 2017, the total is a 26.2 percent increase over the previous year.
Trade totals for the first two months of 2018 already amount to $1.6 billion, representing year-on-year increases in trade between the two neighbouring states.
On bilateral security too, there is deepening cooperation between Poland and Ukraine.
When Vladimir Putin opened his country's 19km Kerch Strait bridge last week, connecting the Russian region of Krasnodar to the illegally-occupied Crimean peninsular, Polish authorities were among the first to condemn the action.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs labelled the bridge “another gross violation of the principles of international law” adding that it made a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia “an increasingly difficult task”.
Later the same week, Polish authorities banned five Russians from Poland, alleging that they were engaged in “information warfare” that sought to “fuel animosity between Poles and Ukrainians”.
“Their aim was to destabilize the socio-political situation in our country,” Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for the Polish Internal Security Agency, told the Associated Press on Thursday.
Officials in both countries are warning that Russian agents are seeking to destabilize Poland and Ukraine by exacerbating any tensions that exist between the two nations. Intelligence officials say that Russia aims to weaken Ukraine's alliances with European countries like Poland.
In Kyiv, cybersecurity experts recently told the UBJ that constant cyberattacks from Russian actors against countries in central and eastern European countries were mainly intended to damage foreign direct investment by portraying them as unsafe places to do business.
Ukraine and Poland are defiantly countering this message, however, with both countries staging numerous business and investment conferences through the summer.
Earlier this month, a high-level conference to deepen Ukrainian-Polish trade relations even further took place in Warsaw. Ministers and business executives from Ukraine discussed with their Polish counterparts various joint transport and infrastructure projects.
Polish businesses will this year partner with Ukrainian and foreign counterparts on highway and railway projects that better integrate Ukraine with the EU. In Kyiv, officials are also reportedly keen on attracting Polish expertise and investment into Donbas reconstruction projects.
Posted May 22, 2018.