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4 Dec, 2023 10:47

Huge truck queue reported at another EU-Ukraine border

A 22km-long bottleneck has formed as Ukrainian drivers try to avoid a Polish blockade, the ATV broadcaster reports
Huge truck queue reported at another EU-Ukraine border

More than 1,500 trucks are stuck at the border between Ukraine and Hungary, The ATV channel has reported.

A 22km-long queue of lorries has formed as Ukrainian truckers seek alternative ways to enter the EU amid a border blockade by their Polish and Slovak counterparts, the broadcaster said on Sunday.

A local official told ATV that the Zahony border crossing “continues to operate at full capacity,” but it’s not enough to resolve the situation and queues continue to grow.

One of the truckers said he had been waiting in line for three days. However, he added that he had expected this to happen and brought extra food and fuel with him. “It’s part of our job, so we can’t complain too much. We chose this profession for ourselves,” he explained.

Polish truckers started their round-the-clock blockade at the key crossings on the Ukrainian border in early October in protest against the EU’s decision to exempt their Ukrainian counterparts from having to seek permits to cross into the bloc. They argue that measures introduced after the outbreak of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev led to unfair competition and drove down the prices of agricultural products.

Last week, their protest was joined by Polish farmers and truck drivers in neighboring Slovakia, who also blocked a crossing on their country’s frontier with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Economy Ministry announced on Saturday that only 282,000 tons of Ukrainian freight transport exports had passed through the Polish border in November – a 40% decrease from the previous month. Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka said earlier that Ukrainian imports had likely dropped by at least 20% due to the blockade. Ukrainska Pravda newspaper estimated that the actions of the Polish truckers had already cost Ukraine at least $437 million.

Polish and Ukrainian officials held talks in an attempt to break the deadlock last week, but could only agree to unblock one of the four border crossings for empty lorries in order to reduce the pressure on other checkpoints.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s prime backers in the EU amid the conflict with Russia, supplying Kiev with arms, accepting around 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees, and consistently advocating for more sanctions on Moscow.

However, a falling out between the neighbors occurred 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 it would focus on its own security and would not be sending weapons to Ukraine anymore, except some old, decommissioned ones.