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Polish truckers end Ukraine border blockade after two-month standoff

Polish truck drivers agreed to suspend their protest at the Polish-Ukrainian border until 1 March 2024, after blocking the passage of goods for months over fears of losing their market share to Ukrainian competitors.
Trucks blockade Poland
A queue of vehicles waiting to enter Ukraine during the border blockade by Polish carriers. Photo by Suspilne Lviv
Polish truckers end Ukraine border blockade after two-month standoff

On 16 January 2024, Polish carriers ended the blockade of the last checkpoint on the Polish-Ukrainian border, Yahodyn-Dorogusk, after agreeing with the Polish government to suspend their protest, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine announced.

The blockade on the Polish-Ukrainian border, which started on 6 November 2023 over concerns about increased competition from Ukrainian carriers after the liberalization of cross-border shipping rules between Ukraine and the EU, escalated pressure on the Ukrainian economy amid an ongoing Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

Polish-Ukrainian border
The situation on the Polish-Ukrainian border as of 16 January 2024.
Credit: Statistics.ua

According to the information from the Border Guard of Poland, at 8 pm on 16 January, Polish protesters officially ended their protest at the border.

“The registration and passage of trucks across the border in both directions is carried out in the usual mode. We ask drivers to take this information into account when planning international transportation,” the Border Guard of Poland informed.

Earlier on 16 January, Polish protesters suspended the blockade of other checkpoints on the Polish-Ukrainian border, namely Krakivets and Rava-Ruska.

According to an agreement with the Polish government, the Polish carriers blocking the three checkpoints on the border with Ukraine will suspend their protest until 1 March 2024. The protest had been going on for more than two months. The primary demand of the Polish protesters was to restore the permit system for Ukrainian drivers and reverse the liberalization of cross-border shipping rules between Ukraine and the EU.

The agreement between protesters and the government of Poland comprises seven points, including the Polish government pledging to seek changes to EU rules, secure EU funding for transport firms, and introduce more vigorous enforcement of controls on the Poland-Ukraine border. Ukrainian officials expressed hope that the blockade would not resume after 1 March 2024.

According to Ukraine’s Federation of Employers, the Ukrainian economy has already lost at least €400 million due to interference in exporting goods since 6 November, when Polish protesters started blocking the border checkpoints.

The blockade has caused enormous queues at border points, with wait times stretching days, even weeks. Nearly 3,000 trucks were stuck at the Polish-Ukrainian border.

On 16 December, a truck driver died due to a strike by Polish carriers at the Krakivets-Korczowa checkpoint, Volodymyr Balin, Vice President of the Association of International Road Carriers, said to Suspilne.

This was the third case of a Ukrainian driver’s death since the start of the blockade of Ukrainian-Polish checkpoints. On 11 November, a 54-year-old truck driver from Ukraine died in a parking lot near the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint in Poland while waiting to cross the border. On 23 November, another Ukrainian driver died in Poland in a parking lot near the Korczowa-Krakivets checkpoint.

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