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Russia, stalled on battlefield, might seek to bankrupt Ukraine: Polish PM

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Mateusz Morawiecki urged Western EU and NATO states not to repeat past mistakes in hesitating…

russia stalled on battlefield might seek to bankrupt ukraine polish pm
russia stalled on battlefield might seek to bankrupt ukraine polish pm
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Russian President Vladimir Putin might seek to bankrupt Ukraine to make up for his battlefield failures, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has warned, as he urged Western European and NATO allies to continue and expand backing for Kyiv.

Speaking at the Yalta European Strategy summit—organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation—on Friday alongside President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, the Polish prime minister lauded Ukrainian troops “fighting with lion hearts on the battlefield.”

“It seems as though, for the Kremlin, it won’t be so easy to defeat them, to win the war on the battlefield,” Morawiecki said. “So they might want to destabilize Ukraine through not allowing any financial support.”

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“They can have a huge impact in Western Europe,” the Polish prime minister continued. “They might want to organize it through their silent allies, through their agents, through their propaganda…they might want to dissuade the European institutions, public opinion, from giving money to Ukraine.

“They can create a situation where Ukraine can go bankrupt. And what happens then, if the Ukrainian state is not able to pay soldiers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and judges? This could be another situation where the public opinion in Ukraine could potentially change.”

Volodymyr Zelensky and Mateusz Morawiecki in Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki after a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 9, 2022.
Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Ukraine, assisted by advanced NATO weapons, has taken back battlefield momentum in the ongoing invasion, driving significant holes in Russia’s lines in the south and northeast of the country. Russian forces, on the other hand, have taken months to secure small territorial gains in the eastern Donbas region.

But Kyiv is facing more than 20 percent inflation, an annual budget deficit of 22 percent of GDP—around $50 billion—and a reconstruction bill of some $350 billion. “We’re suffering,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said last month.

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Western allies must not hesitate to provide financial and military aid to bolster Ukraine, Morawiecki said.

“If your neighbor’s house is on fire, yours is not safe either,” the prime minister said. “This should not be the wisdom of central and eastern Europe, but this should be the knowledge and understanding of the rest of Europe.”

Morawiecki was joined at the YES panel by Latvian President Egils Levits, both of whom said they planned to “push” EU allies on new talks over Ukraine’s proposed membership of the bloc. Ukraine received candidate status in June. Full ascension would unlock vast EU funds for Kyiv.

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Poland and its Baltic neighbors have traditionally been more hawkish on Russia than most of their Western allies, particularly European nations like France and Germany, whose leaders have sought the easing of hostilities through trade with Moscow in recent decades.

Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine has vindicated the EU-NATO Russo-skeptics, who are now urging Western capitals to pivot to a more assertive anti-Kremlin position.

“Ukraine is fighting for your and our freedom, and the future of the free world,” Morawiecki said. “This should be understood by everybody, including our Italian friends, and German partners, and French, and the others, because they were all sometimes of a slightly different opinion.”

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He added: “Unfortunately it happens again and again. And indecision, and delay, procrastination and hesitation are the parents of failure.

“Some people in Western Europe and elsewhere want to go back to business as usual. I hope there is no way back to business as usual. Because, god forbid, a victory for Putin would mean only another war soon after.”

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