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4 Mar, 2024 07:54

Polish farmers’ blockade is ‘beyond morality’ – Zelensky

Agricultural producers in Poland are outraged that their Ukrainian competitors can sell grain in the EU without paying tariffs
Polish farmers’ blockade is ‘beyond morality’ – Zelensky

The protests at the border by Polish farmers against Ukrainian agricultural imports have crossed all boundaries, President Vladimir Zelensky has said, accusing Warsaw of using the situation for domestic political games while Kiev remains under immense pressure from Russia.

Polish farmers started blockading the Ukrainian border back in autumn in protest of EU regulations that allowed their Ukrainian competitors to sell agricultural products in the bloc without paying tariffs, which they say amounts to an unfair advantage. The protests left thousands of Ukrainian trucks stuck in border queues.

In a video address on Telegram on Sunday, the Ukrainian leader urged his Polish counterparts to “finally find a solution” to the crisis, which he said “has gone beyond both economics and morality long ago.”

“It is simply impossible to explain how the hardships of a bleeding country can be used in domestic political struggles,” he added, promising, however, that Kiev would eventually manage to pull through.

The protests intensified in late February when farmers blocked all six border crossings with Ukraine. Officials in Kiev have also claimed that “unidentified persons” were destroying Ukrainian grain on the railroad, suggesting that it could be “sabotage” and urging the Polish authorities to intervene.

Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski apologized for instances of grain being dumped but attempted to justify the protesters’ actions by saying they were “in a very difficult economic situation.”

Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said last week that Warsaw was in talks with Kiev about temporarily shutting the border. Kiev, however, denied this claim. 

Tusk pointed out that while Poland, which has been one of Kiev’s most steadfast backers, wants to help Ukraine, it “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,” he said. 

The Ukrainian-Polish dispute comes as a wave of protests by farmers has swept through numerous EU states. Farmers in such countries as Germany, Greece, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have rallied against agricultural reforms and new environmental policies which they say increase their costs and decrease profit margins.