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Slovak truckers end protest at border crossing with Ukraine

Ukraine’s board guard said that the movement of trucks at the border with Slovakia is “gradually resuming for an indefinite period.”
Credit: Ukraine’s state border guard service

Slovak truckers ended the blockade of Ukrainian cargo vehicles entering Slovakia via the Uzhhorod-Vyshné Nemecké border crossing, the Slovak Truckers Union reported on Facebook on 15 December.

The Slovak Truckers Union said that “the protest goals have been achieved.” They also presented “a breadth of problems” for “competent authorities” to start addressing rapidly alongside long-term solutions.

Ukraine’s state border guard service said on its Telegram channel, on 15 December, that “movement of trucks at the border with Slovakia is gradually unblocking for an indefinite period.”

Since the blockade was lifted at 9 am local time, around 60 trucks exited Ukraine via Uzhhorod while over 1,000 more waited electronically to leave, Ukraine’s border guard said.

Blocking Ukrainian border amid military aid hurdles

Polish haulers went on strike on 6 November, blocking all major checkpoints on the Ukrainian border, almost completely disrupting the movement of trucks. The strike was planned to last two months and aimed to draw the Polish authorities’ attention to the country’s transport industry. In particular, to push back against increased competition from Ukrainian hauliers after the liberalization of laws governing international transport between Ukraine and the EU.

On 13 November, Ukraine and Poland held talks at the countries’ border, aiming to resolve issues caused by a strike of Polish truck drivers that has severely slowed cargo transports. However, the Polish carriers refused to unblock the border with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, on 16 November, the Union of Slovak Road Hauliers blocked the Ukrainian border in their country for an hour, demanding the European Commission return to issuing commercial permits for Ukrainian transportation within the EU. Soon they resumed the strike for an unknown time. On the afternoon of 1 December, Slovak hauliers began the announced blockade of truck traffic through the Vyšné Nemecké-Uzhhorod checkpoint. As of 4 December 2023, the queue of over 700 trucks from Slovakia to Ukraine has reached almost 30 kilometres.

The protesters demand the return of license permits for Ukrainian carriers. However, this demand is impossible to implement unless the EU Commission decides to do so and reverses its previous decision regarding the license-free transition of goods for Ukrainian companies. On 5 December, the European Commission said it opposed the resumption of the system of issuing permits for Ukrainian hauliers, European Pravda reported.

According to the estimates of the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, the economy of Ukraine has already lost at least €400 million. Polish and Slovak entrepreneurs also suffer from the blockade since their exports can’t be moved to Ukraine properly. But the worst is that the blockade also hits Ukrainian defense capabilities.

According to Ukrainian outlet, The Babel, on 15 November, which visited border crossings, all supplies for the army brought by non-state organizations, including the largest volunteer foundations, are also stuck in the general queue.

The blockade at the Ukrainian border in Poland and Slovakia is occurring alongside other obstacles in providing military aid to Ukraine. On 14 December the US Senate backed a defense policy bill authorizing a record $886 billion in annual military spending for 2024, which includes a total of $300 million in aid for Ukraine. According to Reuters, this is “a tiny” compared to the $61 billion in additional Ukraine aid President Joe Biden has requested from Congress. Consideration of that funding is currently stalled in Congress over disagreements tied to immigration legislation demands from Republicans.

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