Poland has long criticized Hungary for its neutrality in the war in Ukraine and its calls to end sanctions on Russia, but despite the Polish government’s tough rhetoric, billions in exports continue to flow from Poland to Russia
Data from Eurostat shows that Polish exports to Russia fell sharply in the first half of 2022, only to begin to rise again in the second half of the year. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Poland exported €1.2 billion worth of goods to Russia. Although this represented a fall of 44 percent over 2021, it was a marked improvement on the second and third quarters of the year, according to Polish news outlet Forsal.
After initially falling to €300 million in March and €200 million in April, exports to Russia are recovering and are now regularly above €300 million per month.
Hungary and Poland have ‘parted ways,’ Polish PM Morawiecki says
Disagreement on the war in Ukraine has shaken Polish-Hungarian relations
The total value of Polish exports to Russia for 2022 was €4.7 billion. That means that Poland was the third-biggest EU exporter to Russia. Only Germany and Italy exported more.
Polish exports to Russia are dominated by industrial products, which accounted for almost €830 million. The second-largest contributor was synthetic fibers (€371 million), and in third place came pharmaceuticals with sales worth €353 million, an actual increase of 18 percent over 2021. Footwear also saw a rise in exports to Russia.
There were, however, large declines in areas such as the sale of vehicles (69 percent) and electrical goods (51 percent). Predictably, the export of explosives and ammunition virtually ceased.
The value of imports from Russia, on the other hand, was down significantly, falling 61 percent compared to 2021 when energy accounted for the bulk of imports; the decline came despite the rise in energy prices. As a result, Poland fell to seventh from second place in the EU with regard to the volume of imports from Russia. Hungary has moved in the other direction, climbing from 13th to 3rd place as a result of a 194 percent increase in imports from Russia.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has refused to send weapons to Ukraine or allow weapon transports through his territory, stressing that Hungary wants no part in the war. The country’s government has called for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations. In addition, Orbán has argued on numerous occasions that sanctions against Russia are harming Europeans more than Russians and that sanctions should be dropped by the end of the year, a stance that likely led to Orbán landing on a Ukrainian “kill list” and earning the scorn of war hawks in Poland.
Poland’s leader, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, has gone so far as to say the alliance between Hungary and Poland is over.
Orbán said in August of 2022 that the goals of both Poland and Hungary are the same “but the problem is of the heart,” claiming that Hungarians see the conflict in Ukraine as a war between two Slavic nations, whereas Poles “feel that they are also fighting in it.”
“I confirm the words of PM Orbán, that Poland and Hungary have parted ways,” said Morawiecki while also adding that Poland is not a part of the conflict.