Poland has rejected the claim that it was not invited to the International Defence Industry Forum held in Kyiv last week, and apologized for the misunderstanding caused by a minister’s statement. The forum, hosted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, aimed to showcase the achievements and prospects of the Ukrainian defence sector and to foster cooperation with foreign partners.
Minister’s statement sparks controversy
The controversy began when Polish Minister of State Property Jacek Sasin said in a radio interview on Saturday that the largest Polish state-run defence corporation, Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), was not invited to the forum, implying that Ukraine was ignoring its strategic ally. Sasin also expressed his disappointment with the lack of progress in the joint Polish-Ukrainian tank project, which was announced in 2015 but has not been implemented yet.
Sasin’s statement provoked a strong reaction from the Ukrainian side, which denied the allegation and said that Poland was among the first countries to receive an invitation to the event. Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Vasyl Zvarych told the Polish media that the invitation was sent to the Polish Ministry of National Defence, which was responsible for delegating the representatives of the Polish defence industry. Zvarych also said that he personally contacted the PGZ president and invited him to the forum.
Minister and PGZ apologize for the misunderstanding
On Sunday, Sasin issued a correction and an apology on his Twitter account, saying that he did not have accurate information when he made his statement. He said that he was informed by the PGZ president that the corporation had received the invitation, but was unable to participate due to other circumstances, and that it was coordinated with the Ukrainian side. Sasin also expressed his hope for further cooperation between Poland and Ukraine in the defence sector.
The PGZ also released a statement, confirming that it had received the invitation and regretting that it could not attend the forum. The corporation stressed the “constant and close bilateral cooperation” with Ukraine and recalled the agreement on the maintenance of the Leopard 2A4 tanks that the Western countries supplied to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The PGZ also said that it was ready to resume the talks on the joint tank project as soon as possible.
Forum showcases Ukraine’s defence potential
The International Defence Industry Forum, which took place on September 29, 2023, was attended by representatives of more than 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Turkey, and Canada. The forum featured presentations and exhibitions of the latest products and technologies of the Ukrainian defence industry, such as missiles, drones, radars, and armoured vehicles. President Zelenskyy also announced the creation of the Defence Industries Alliance, a platform for cooperation and integration of the Ukrainian defence sector with the global market.
The forum was seen as an important step for Ukraine to demonstrate its defence capabilities and to attract foreign investment and partnerships, especially in the context of the ongoing Russian aggression and the aspiration to join NATO. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the forum marked a “new era” of the Ukrainian defence industry and that Ukraine was ready to offer its solutions to the world.