Polish farmers block Ukraine border crossings

poland and ukraine flags painted over cracked concrete wall

Polish farmers blocked cross-border traffic from neighbouring Ukraine on Tuesday, in their latest protest against EU policies and what they consider to be unfair competition from outside the bloc.

Demonstrators at the Shehyni-Medyka checkpoint dumped Ukrainian grain from a freight train wagon onto the railway tracks, in an act that Kyiv characterized as a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘provocation’.

Elsewhere, tractors festooned with Polish flags blocked major roads and junctions in some 200 locations across Poland, the BBC reported, citing protest organizers.

In recent weeks, farmers right across the EU have been expressing growing frustration over rising costs, the bloc’s net-zero climate goals, and cheap agricultural imports, all of which, they say, are jeopardizing their livelihoods.

Polish farmers, though, have expressed particularly strong opposition to tariff exemptions for Ukrainian produce, which were introduced following the outbreak of the full-scale war in 2022, and are calling for a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain, fruit, eggs, and meat.

They have been blocking Ukrainian border crossings on and off since November, which in some cases has left Ukrainian truck drivers stranded at checkpoints for weeks. Ukrainian drivers are now launching their own counter protests in response.

Ukraine, for its part, maintains that its agricultural exports through eastern Europe have not harmed EU markets. Its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said that, in fact, only 5% of the country’s agricultural exports pass through the Polish border.

Ukraine has also complained that the actions of Polish farmers are undermining its war efforts by preventing it from receiving much-needed supplies of humanitarian aid and fuel.

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