Truck drivers from Poland will extend a blockade of the country’s border with Ukraine as a dispute that has stopped the flow of aid and other goods into the war-torn country, threatens to roll over into the New Year.
Drivers from Poland’s neighbor and fellow NATO member Slovakia also reportedly joined the standoff which started on November 6 stemming from complaints that Ukrainian imports have reduced the competitiveness of their transported goods.
Polish border guards have stopped trucks with humanitarian aid from the Red Cross from entering Ukraine, media outlet Ukrinform reported on Monday. Meanwhile, tanks containing oil products, gas, and other hazardous substances have been left parked in the thousands.
Ukrainian Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhiy Derkach said there had been “numerous” cases of trucks with humanitarian aid that they were assured would cross unimpeded crossing were now stuck in queues.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kubrakov said on X, formerly Twitter that trucks were backed up more than 18 miles toward the Yahodyn crossing, six miles toward Rava-Ruska, and over 10 miles toward the Krakivets crossing.
Polish truckers complain that Ukrainian drivers are entering Poland from where they haul goods to other countries, undercutting local businesses that cannot match cheaper Ukrainian prices, a claim denied by Ukrainian officials.
Protesters from Poland’s Committee for the Defense of Carriers and Transport Employers (KOPIPT) demand a limit on the number of Ukrainian drivers entering Poland.
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian drivers had to apply for permits to enter EU countries, but these were suspended by Brussels until June 2024 to help Ukraine’s export industry after Russia blocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
The Polish truckers want the EU to reinstate permits and have been inspired by the success of protests by Polish farmers in which Brussels imposed a temporary ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural goods, The Kyiv Independent reported.
The blockade at three crossings has caused massive lines on both sides of the border, with expected waiting times reaching over one month at the Yahodyn–Dorohusk crossing, according to the electronic service eCherha.
On Sunday, Kyiv sent a humanitarian team with food and water for the truckers, but it seems the dispute will not end any time soon.
Eastern European news outlet Nexta reported on Wednesday that Polish carriers said the blockade would continue until February 1 and will expand to a fourth checkpoint “Medyka-Shehyn.”
Source : Newsweek