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Polish farmers to expand Ukraine border blockade

Polish farmers expand protests primarily focusing on blockading the Ukrainian border, targeting 100 locations across Poland including borders, ports and rail to restrict Ukrainian agricultural imports they say undercut domestic producers.
Polish truckers
A queue of Ukrainian trucks at the Rava-Ruska-Hrebenne border crossing point with Poland following a strike a Polish truckers. November 2023. Screenshot from report by Suspilne
Polish farmers to expand Ukraine border blockade

On 20 February, Poland expects a new wave of mass protests by farmers against Ukrainian imports, with road blockades taking place in about a hundred locations across Poland, including roads, border checkpoints, ports, railways, and transshipment stations. The Polish-based Institute of Agricultural Economics published a map of the areas where traffic will be hampered, according to the RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service.

Following the suspension of the blockade by Polish truckers, Poland’s farmers have taken over, blocking truck traffic in both directions at land crossings to Ukraine, a nation currently defending against Russian aggression.

Ukraine has warned of significant economic repercussions from Polish truckers and farmers’ blockades of Ukrainian cargo at the border, with protests expected to intensify on 20 February:

“Blocking transport on the Polish border will have serious social and political consequences for both countries,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, wrote on Facebook.

Tomasz Obszanski, head of the Polish Farmers Solidarity trade union, told RFE/RL that protesters’ demands center on calls to restrict imports of Ukrainian agricultural products entering Poland. He said in addition to roads, protesters will continue to block six checkpoints on the Polish-Ukrainian border, as well as ports and transshipment stations.

[On 20 February,] mainly trucks will be blocked. One through per hour will be let, as it was before. As far as I know, private cars were blocked [on 18 February], I think, from 10:00 to 16:00. Buses will be allowed through. The border will continue to be blocked, much more protesters will come from all over Poland. It is possible to block the railroad tracks, I don’t know if it will be possible, but there is such an announcement. There are plans to block the transshipment terminal in Brody, as well as blockade of ports, several cities, highways and highway entrances,” he said.

Tomasz Obrzanski claimed their demand concerns only the restriction of agricultural imports to Poland; goods can transit through without any obstacles.

Meanwhile, Roman Kondrów, leader of the Podkarpackie Deceived Village organization also taking part in the protests, said that he did not know what the protest would look like, and that it would be decided during the protest. The head of the farmers’ organization does not rule out that the protest may involve private vehicles and buses.

In Poland, farmers have been on strike since 9 February and continue to block checkpoints with Ukraine, as well as roads and highways. According to Polish Minister of Agriculture Czeslaw Siekerski, new rules on agricultural imports should be formulated by the end of March. The next mass protests of farmers were scheduled for 27 February. On this day, farmers are announcing a large march in Warsaw.

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