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Polish farmers block Ukrainian border checkpoint, promise to block another

On 9 February, Polish farmers staged blockades at the Ukraine border checkpoint Dorohusk-Yahodyn, protesting competition, planning to extend their blockade to another checkpoint on 12 February.
polish farmers
A banner reading ‘Stop destroying the Polish agriculture’ at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Dorohusk, eastern Poland, on 9 February 2024. Photo: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP
Polish farmers block Ukrainian border checkpoint, promise to block another

On 9 February, Polish farmers staged blockades at the Ukraine border checkpoint Dorohusk-Yahodyn, claiming to protest competition and potentially prompting new import bans on Ukrainian agricultural products from Warsaw. Over 250 locations across Poland were affected, with slow-moving tractor columns disrupting traffic, AFP reported. Ukraine’s Border Service reports that Polish farmers intend to extend their blockade to an additional checkpoint on 12 February.

The Polish farmers’ protests follow a recent two-month blockade by Polish truckers at major border crossings, attempting to address local issues by disrupting imports to and exports from Ukraine, a nation currently facing the challenges of the all-out war and Russia’s genocide. While the hauliers have temporarily halted the blockade until March, they have cautioned of a return to the border if their demands remain unaddressed. Essential military supplies, such as drone components, were among the goods stranded at the border due to the truckers’ blockade, benefitting the Kremlin as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued.

“We have no other choice,” claimed Marcin Wilgos, an organizer of the protest in Dorohusk at the border with Ukraine, as he stood next to a banner advocating for EU intervention to ban Ukrainian grain and sugar, AFP says.

The protest, organized by Poland’s main farming union, is scheduled to last for a month, reflecting increasing farmer dissatisfaction across Europe due to plummeting prices. European farmers argue that competition from Ukraine, not subject to EU regulations like animal welfare standards, has severely impacted their incomes.

The farmers in Poland plan to expand their protests to the second border checkpoint with Ukraine, Zosin-Ustyluh, with truck traffic blockages expected on 12 February, allowing three trucks per hour in each direction for vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tons, according to Ukraine’s State Border Service referring to the “Polish side’s information.”

During Russia’s nearly two-year invasion of Ukraine, Poland, one of Ukraine’s steadfast allies, faced tensions due to grain import restrictions imposed by Poland and four other EU nations in June 2023. AFP says Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski suggested on 9 February that “complete” import bans might extend to other product categories like sugar and poultry if necessary. He claimed the farmers’ “legitimate expectations and demands” regarding limiting Ukrainian imports, promising talks with Kyiv. Siekierski planned to meet protest organizers to address their concerns.

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