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26 Nov, 2023 08:40

Ukrainian mayor urges Poland to end ‘disgraceful’ blockade

Warsaw’s aid to Kiev amid the conflict with Russia is being negated by “fringe elements,” the city head of Lviv, Andrey Sadovoy, says
Ukrainian mayor urges Poland to end ‘disgraceful’ blockade

Authorities in Warsaw must take action against the Polish truckers who have been preventing cargo trucks from crossing into Ukraine for almost three weeks now, the mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Andrey Sadovoy, has said.

“Our Polish friends should get back to reality,” Sadovoy wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

Poland’s “gigantic contribution” to Ukraine amid the conflict with Russia is “being negated by fringe elements, who are blocking humanitarian supplies to a country that has been defending its independence and security of Europe,” he insisted.

“Does Poland have the courage, political will, and civic tools to end this disgraceful blockade of Ukraine? The price is too high,” said the mayor of Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, located some 70km from the Polish border.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s prime backers in the EU after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out in February 2022. Warsaw has reportedly donated half of its tanks and various other hardware to the government in Kiev. The EU country has also accepted around 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees while consistently calling on Brussels to ramp up its sanctions on Russia.

However, a falling out between the neighbors happened in September after Ukraine filed a now-suspended complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Poland and some other EU states banning Ukrainian grain deliveries. Warsaw said that it will focus on its own security and won’t be sending weapons to Ukraine anymore, except some old, decommissioned ones.

Polish truckers started their blockade of the Ukraine border on October 6 to protest the EU’s decision to exempt their Ukrainian counterparts from having to seek permits to cross the frontier. They argue that measures introduced after the outbreak of the fighting between Moscow and Kiev led to unfair competition and drove down the prices of agricultural products.

According to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, some 3,700 Ukrainian trucks have been stuck at border crossings as a result of the protest. The drivers in the queues have been experiencing food and water shortages, with two reportedly dying.

The Ukrainska Pravda newspaper said earlier this week that Ukraine has already lost $437 million due to the blockade. According to the UNIAN news agency, this has impacted not only the deliveries of humanitarian cargo but also military gear required by Kiev’s forces, such as drones and thermal cameras, have been affected.

Speaking about the situation on Saturday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that Kiev has been working with Warsaw on the ministerial level to resolve the deadlock. “I think a little bit of time should be given to our neighbors. It’s going to get warmer,” he assured.