EU state blocking Ukrainian vehicles – Spiegel
Polish border control officials appear to have deliberately slowed down the process of border crossing for Ukrainian vehicles, bringing waiting times from mere hours to days, Der Spiegel has claimed. The supposed measure comes as relations between Kiev and Warsaw have soured over a grain export feud.
The media outlet reported on Friday that Ukrainian vehicles registering in a Polish electronic system to cross into the country now have to wait as much as eleven days for their application to be processed – a marked deterioration compared to the five hours it took as recently as early August.
Der Spiegel reported that despite the traditional autumn uptick in border crossings, Polish officials have seemingly done nothing to match the increased number of trucks crossing over from its eastern neighbor, and are even deliberately slowing the process down.
A manager at a German supplier working in Ukraine described the situation as “a covert strike by the Polish border control.” A colleague of his echoed this assessment, saying that “unfortunately, experience shows that every now and again Poland uses the border situation as a form of pressure,” as quoted by Der Spiegel.
On Monday, Polish truckers held a protest at three border crossings with Ukraine, blocking the passage of most vehicles, except for military and some other shipments.
The protesters accused the government in Warsaw of inaction in the face of what they described as unfair foreign competition from Ukraine. They demanded that restrictions on the number of Ukraine-registered trucks entering Poland be reimposed – a measure that was abolished following the start of Moscow’s military campaign against Kiev last February.
Last month, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Muller made it clear that his country was not going to sacrifice its economic interests for Ukraine, adding that relations between Kiev and Warsaw would likely be “difficult” for months to come.
The neighbors have for months been locked in a bitter dispute over Ukrainian agricultural exports.
While the EU previously suspended tariffs on Ukrainian exports in a bid to shore up Kiev amid the conflict with Moscow, farmers in neighboring countries were unable to compete with cheap grain from Ukraine, leading Brussels to impose a moratorium on such imports to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. When the moratorium expired in September, the four EU states reinstated the restrictions on a national level, prompting Ukraine to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accused the four countries of supporting Russia, sparking outrage in Warsaw, with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau warning that his country’s trust in Kiev’s leadership was shaken and would require “titanic efforts” to be restored.