On August 31st, 2022, the pro-Kremlin Georgian online outlet “Georgia and World” published the comment of Russian political scientist Andrey Suzdaltsev regarding Ukraine and Poland. According to Suzdaltsev, the Poles are “trying to seize everything” in Ukraine; they are buying land, they are also buying grain at a 50% discount in order to sell it more expensively in Europe, and the Ukrainian government, according to Suzdaltsev, exported the gold reserve to Poland in the winter. Suzdaltsev initially gave this comment to RIA NOVOSTI, after which it was published by other Russian language publications, including Московский Комсомолец.
The claims made by Andrey Suzdaltsev regarding the “seizure” of Ukraine by the Poles are false: 1) Ukrainian grain is sold in Poland at the same price as in other Eastern European countries; 2) citizens of foreign countries cannot buy agricultural plots of land in Ukraine; 3) Ukraine has not exported gold reserves to Poland.
Ukrainian grain is sold in Poland at the same price as in other Eastern European countries
According to Suzdaltsev, Poland buys grain from Ukraine at a 50% discount. However, according to APK-Inform data, Ukrainian grain is bought at auctions from Poland in the same price category as from other countries. The Ukrainian analytical and information agency APK-Inform systematically publishes information related to agribusiness in Ukraine and the CIS countries, including information about the prices of various products on the market. Information about bid prices for Ukrainian grain at grain auctions from different countries is available on the agency’s website. Offered prices correspond to 1 ton of grain, which will be delivered at the place (at the border) under the condition (DAP) that the seller pays the shipping fee to the specified place and assumes all the transportation risks.
In recent months, the price offered at auctions for Ukrainian grain from various Eastern European countries is in the same price range. For instance, in March, buyers on the grain market in Poland and Baltic countries paid USD 250-265 for 1 ton of Ukrainian corn and USD 275 in Slovakia. A decrease in the price of corn was observed in April, as the price offered for Ukrainian corn on the Polish border in April-May amounted to USD 240-250 per ton, which, according to APK-Inform, was USD 15 cheaper than a week ago. Notably, the price of Ukrainian grain sometimes varies slightly not only in different countries but also in different locations in the same country, for example, in May-June, the offered price for 1 ton of corn at the border of Poland was USD 230-250 in Izov, and USD 225-240 in Yahodin.
According to АPK-Inform, the prices are affected by a fairly large amount of grain (a new crop is added to the grain accumulated in Ukraine due to the suspension of exports), a limited number of European buyers, transportation costs, delays in the execution of contracts and logistical problems arising in the transfer of grain. According to the agency’s information, currently, for the period of September-October, corn prices are stable in the range of USD 205-220 per ton in Poland and in the range of USD 220-240 in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. It should be noted that Ukrainian grain prices are currently below the market price, although this is due to market processes – low demand, development of the domestic market, risks associated with the use of Ukrainian ports – and not to Ukraine’s sale of grain at any kind of discount.
Problems related to the export of grain after the emergence of the war in Ukraine have become the target of disinformation in the past as well:
- Did the Ship Loaded with Grain Depart from Ukraine to Africa?
Citizens of foreign countries cannot buy agricultural plots of land in Ukraine
More than 70% of Ukraine’s territory, 42.7 million hectares, represents agricultural land. According to Suzdaltsev, Poles are actively buying land in Ukraine, although according to Ukrainian legislation, foreign citizens are not allowed to buy agricultural land in Ukraine. From 1992 to 2021, there was a moratorium on the purchase and sale of agricultural land in Ukraine, and even Ukrainian citizens could not trade agricultural land. In 2021, the legislation was changed, and the agricultural land trading market was opened, although the land reform in the country is carried out gradually. At the moment, only natural persons who are citizens of Ukraine can buy agricultural land in Ukraine, and not more than 100 hectares. Legal entities will be allowed to purchase land from 2024. Foreign citizens and companies cannot purchase agricultural land. It is necessary to hold a referendum on the issue of giving foreigners the right to purchase land; it is also worth noting that regardless of the results of the referendum, citizens of foreign countries will not be able to purchase a plot of land that is not at least 50 kilometres away from the border of Ukraine. It is also forbidden to sell land to citizens of the aggressor country, Russia.
According to the existing legislation, the purchase of non-agricultural land for foreigners is allowed only if real estate (eg, a house) is located on this land and the land belongs to an urban settlement. According to the explanation of one of the Ukrainian legal firms, “Правовая Помощь”, in their practice, there was a case when foreign citizens were helped in the purchase of a plot of land and the real estate located on it in Ukraine. In one case, a citizen of a foreign country bought the building of an old sanatorium and the territory belonging to the sanatorium in order to build a new hotel; in another case, a citizen of a foreign country bought a plot of land to build a quail farm on it, in both cases these plots of land were not for agricultural purposes and in both cases the plot contained real estate.
- The claim that Ukraine has exported gold reserves to Poland is without evidence
The information that Ukraine allegedly exported the gold reserves to Poland was disseminated in the Russian media back in July. According to the Russian media, the Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine, Sergiy Nikolaychuk, made a statement on this fact in an interview with the publication Rabbit Hole. The information was verified by the Ukrainian fact-checking platform StopFake, which found that Nikolaychuk did not make such a statement either with Rabbit Hole or in any other interviews. In addition, StopFake notes that the gold and foreign exchange reserves, or international reserves of Ukraine, include assets that are internationally recognized by the international community. 54.9% of this reserve is government bonds of countries with high credit ratings, mostly US foreign debt bonds, 38.4% – cash and other resources on deposits of central banks of other countries, as for gold and other precious metals, it represents 6.7% of Ukraine’s reserves. Gold reserves of Ukraine are kept in the state treasury of the National Bank and by the National Bank in the accounts of central and commercial banks of other countries, including foreign banks. The publication notes that Ukraine’s gold and currency reserves represent the unity of the country’s reserves and are distributed in different forms and places, which excludes the claim that Ukraine exported its gold reserves to Poland.
Following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, the relations between Ukraine and Poland have become the target of Russian disinformation a number of times. Various disinformation narratives as if Poland seeks to seize the territories of Ukraine and take control over the country have been debunked by “Myth Detector” in the past as well. For more, see:
- Disinformation of Yaakov Kedmi, as if Poland Plans to Deploy Troops in Ukraine
- Another Disinformation of the Kremlin as if Poland Plans to Annex Ukraine
- Who Wants to Divide Ukraine – Poland or Zhirinovsky?
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