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Ukraine calls on Poland to stop border block by truckers

8 months ago 37

The Ukrainian government called on Poland to stop the truckers who are protesting against their government’s inaction over the loss of business to foreign competitors during Russia’s war on Ukraine by blocking roads to three border crossings with Ukraine on Monday.

The truckers plan to halt commercial traffic until Warsaw and Brussels re-introduce limits on transport operations for Ukrainian hauliers from before Russia’s invasion.

The move comes after protests from farmers, including similar methods, resulted in Poland imposing a ban on Ukrainian food imports. “We’re going to do it the way farmers did — keep protesting until the government acknowledges the problem and reacts to it,” said Jacek Sokół, an owner of a small trucking company.

Truckers from Ukraine used to be exempted from the need to obtain permits to cross the Polish border since the war in Ukraine started, and firms from Russia and Belarus have been setting up Polish entities. The exemption resulted in Ukrainian trucks crossing the Polish border around 900,000 times, compared to 180,000 trucks annually before the war.

The protesters demand restoring restrictions on the number of Ukraine-registered trucks entering Poland and a ban on transport companies with capital from outside the European Union.

Their protest met with disapproval from both the Polish government and the EU, which called on the truckers to lift the blockade and let the transport resume. The Ukrainian government called on Warsaw to act.

“We call on the Polish protesters to stop the blockade of the border and choose other forms of defending their rights that would not impede movement across the border,” appealed Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Vasyl Zharych in a statement.

Referring to the road blockage, he said such methods can only play into the hands of “our common enemy, the Russian terrorists,” while harming the interests of both Kyiv and Warsaw.

Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov declared Ukraine is prepared for a “constructive dialogue” that will take into consideration the interests of the carriers of both countries, he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The EU-forged exemption, prolonged until next June, allows Ukraine truckers to cross the EU border with no additional permissions. The deal does not permit them to pick up and drop off loads on the bloc’s territory, though.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | Euractiv.pl)

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