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12 Dec, 2023 14:24

Poland-Ukraine crossing blocked just hours after reopening

Police reportedly used force overnight to clear truckers from a border checkpoint, according to a protest organizer
Poland-Ukraine crossing blocked just hours after reopening

A blockade by Polish truckers on the Ukraine border has been re-established after police moved in overnight to clear away protesters. The long-delayed traffic briefly resumed but by evening on Tuesday the crossing had again blocked by a single Polish truck, according to Ukraine’s Border Guard service.

The mayor of Dorohusk, a Polish village on the border, had taken steps to end the month-long protest, allegedly fearing that it would hurt jobs in the area, local media reported. Road traffic then resumed in both directions at the Yahodyn-Dorohusk crossing, with Kiev’s Infrastructure Minister Aleksandr Kubrakov saying 15 Ukrainian trucks had made it through by early afternoon.

However, by evening, videos circulating online showed a truck diagonally obstructing both lanes, with Polish police saying the vehicle had broken down.

Rafal Mekler, an organizer of the Polish truckers’ picket, joked on X (formerly Twitter) that the vehicle may have decided to break down after it “reacted badly to the insults of the Ukrainian drivers” passing through the crossing. He later posted a video which appeared to show local police dispersing the truckers as they attempted to stop traffic during the night.

On Tuesday morning, Mekler posted his application for another protest, promising that the demonstration was not over. “We are not giving up,” the organizer wrote.

The Polish blockade began in early November in protest at the EU’s decision to exempt Ukrainian truckers from having to seek permits to enter the bloc, in a bid to ease logistics amid Kiev’s conflict with Moscow.

Polish truckers claimed the move created unfair competition, as it exempted Ukrainian drivers from meeting EU standards. The protest was later joined by Polish farmers, unhappy with the influx of cheap Ukrainian grain driving down prices.

Haulers in Hungary and Slovakia have also insisted they are being undercut by Ukrainian operators.

On Monday, Hungarian truckers similarly began blocking the Zahony-Csop checkpoint at the Ukrainian border, limiting traffic to only two trucks per hour.

Earlier this month, Slovakia’s truckers began obstructing the country’s main road crossing with Ukraine, resulting in queues of more than a thousand vehicles.