Ukraine’s Deputy PM appeals to Poland's interior minister over escalating border blockade

Protests of Polish farmers at the Medyka checkpoint
Protests of Polish farmers at the Medyka checkpoint

Ukrainian Deputy PM Oleksandr Kubrakov questioned Polish Interior Minister Marcin Kerwinski's decision to permit the blockade of passenger coaches at the border in his X post on March 20.

“Should people in a civilized country be held hostage to political confrontations?” he wrote, noting the contradiction between the Polish police's claim ten days ago that coaches were crossing the border without restrictions and the current blocking of passenger traffic by the strikers.

Read also: Police clash as farmers’ protest expands in Poland

Earlier, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) reported that Polish farmers had launched a nationwide strike on March 20, completely blocking two border crossings with Ukraine and allowing only one passenger coaches to pass every two hours, both inbound and outbound.

According to SBGS spokesman Andriy Demchenko, farmers are holding a major strike, with road blockades and protests taking place across Poland. Truck traffic was completely blocked at the Yagodyn and Rava-Ruska checkpoints. Very few vehicles have been able to cross from Poland into Ukraine through the Yahodyn and Shehyni checkpoints - 70 and 40 respectively over the past day.

Read also: Analysts debunk Polish claims against Ukrainian agro-exports

Polish protesters began restricting traffic at the border with Ukraine on Feb. 20. Trucks were blocked at the Medyka-Shehyni, Dołhobyczów-Uhryniv, Zosin-Ustyluh, Korczowa-Krakovets, Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoints.

The farmers made numerous demands, including two main ones: the abolition of duty-free trade with Ukraine and the complete closure of the Ukrainian-Polish border for trucks.

Protesters threw grain out of eight railroad cars carrying Ukrainian agricultural products overnight on Feb. 24-25. This was the fourth incident in recent days. Poland said it was unable to collect all the Ukrainian grain that had fallen out of the railroad cars.

The Ukrainian and Polish sides held talks on the possibility of unblocking the border and taking into account the interests of farmers on Feb. 28.

Read also: Poland may ban more Ukrainian imports – PM Tusk

The European Parliament Committee supported the extension of duty-free trade for Ukraine on March 7. Ukraine announced on the same day that it was ready to go for trade restrictions with the EU, but on its own terms.

Polish farmers temporarily stopped blocking traffic at the Krakovets checkpoint with Ukraine on March 10. The protesters are to resume the strike at this checkpoint on March 13.

Polish farmers announced on March 11 that they would not allow any trucks to leave Ukraine through the Zosin-Ustyluh checkpoint.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine