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3 Mar, 2024 21:24

Polish farmers shut down country’s border with Ukraine

“Not a single truck” is able to pass the blockade, Kiev’s border guards have said
Polish farmers shut down country’s border with Ukraine

Protesting Polish farmers blockaded all six border crossings to Ukraine on Sunday, according to Kiev’s border security agency. The move comes after months of protests by Poland’s agricultural workers against cheap Ukrainian imports threatening their livelihoods.

“As of this morning, more than 2,400 cargo vehicles are waiting in queues” at all six crossing points, State Border Guard Service spokesman Andrey Demchenko told Ukraine’s ‘European Pravda’ news site.

“Not a single truck is crossing the border towards Poland, because they are not allowed through,” Demchenko said, adding that cars, vans, and buses are being allowed to pass as normal.

Polish farmers have been blockading the border since November, in protest of an EU rule allowing Ukrainian farmers to sell their grain in the bloc without paying tariffs or abiding by Brussels’ stringent regulations. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said earlier this week that Warsaw was in talks with Kiev about temporarily shutting the border, although the Ukrainian side denied his claim.

Polish authorities “want to help Ukraine, but we can’t allow this help to bring very negative effects to our citizens. We are constantly looking for a solution that will protect the Polish market from being flooded with clearly cheaper [Ukrainian] agricultural products,” Tusk said on Wednesday.

The farmers have also staged a protest at Poland’s Lithuanian border, claiming that the Baltic state is being used by Ukrainian truckers to circumvent their blockade on the border with Ukraine.

In addition to lifting tariffs on Ukrainian produce, the EU in 2022 abolished a rule requiring the war-torn country’s haulage companies to obtain permits to enter the bloc. While the move was designed to inject some much-needed revenue into Ukraine’s transport industry, Polish officials claimed that it allowed Ukrainian truckers to undercut their local counterparts. 

The situation was further exacerbated by Kiev imposing a queuing system that kept Polish trucks waiting for up to two weeks to return from trips to Ukraine, while Ukrainian trucks were free to cross the border as often as they wanted.

Despite the fact that Polish officials have repeatedly and publicly warned of the threat posed by cheap imports, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claimed last week that the protesting farmers were only doing so because of the influence of a “Russian disinformation campaign.”