Assistance for Ukraine cost Poland between $7-8 billion (€6.5-7.5 billion) last year, equivalent to approximately 1.5 percent of its GDP, President Andrzej Duda has revealed.
Speaking to Almar Latour, the chief executive of Dow Jones, the Polish premier acknowledged that Ukrainian refugees have contributed to Polish economic growth and were not seeking hand-outs, but admitted the financial outlay to support them in the first instance had been significant.
Duda complained that his country had not received any financial assistance from Brussels to handle the 8 million Ukrainian refugees who initially arrived in Poland, with about 1.5 million remaining in the country.
The Polish president recalled that Poland had moved quickly once the war began to introduce full national insurance, health, and education rights for Ukrainians. They were given the right to work and child benefits. This was proof that Poland was showing solidarity and sharing what they had with the Ukrainian refugees, and Ukrainians are now dispersed throughout the country and have become very much a part of Polish society.
He rejected, however, all talk of Russia having lost the war, saying Russia was still occupying large parts of Ukraine and that in terms of population, Russia outnumbered Ukraine by more than 3 to 1. He also highlighted that Russia has appeared to be prepared to tolerate a greater loss of life on the battlefield.
Duda lamented the fact that Russia remains a nuclear power with huge reserves of arms and ammunition, even if the quality of their weapons is sometimes questionable. According to the Polish president, Russia is determined, it has succeeded in functioning as a war economy, and Russian society also seems to be largely supportive of its imperial ambitions.