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Zelenskyy calls for dialogue with Poland over border blockade

The Ukrainian president urges his Polish counterpart and the prime minister to join him at the border, where Polish farmers have been protesting and disrupting trade and travel since 20 February 2024.
Ukrainian truckers protesting against the Polish border blockade. Krakivets, Ukraine, 20 February 2024. Photo: Suspilne
Zelenskyy calls for dialogue with Poland over border blockade

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed to Poland and the European Commission to engage in a dialogue concerning the blocking of checkpoints on the common border by Polish farmers, Zelenskyy said in his daily video address to Ukrainian citizens.

President Zelenskyy invited Polish leaders and the European Commission to a meeting at the Polish-Ukrainian border, where Polish farmers have been blocking checkpoints and dumping Ukrainian grain in protest against agricultural policies.

In an address published on social media in Ukrainian and Polish, the President of Ukraine said that he had instructed the Ukrainian government to “come to the border” between Ukraine and Poland by 24 February”.

“I ask you, Donald Tusk [Prime Minister of Poland – ed.] to come to the border as well. And Andrzej Duda, Mr. President [of Poland – ed.], I ask you to support this dialogue. This is about our national security. We must not delay this. The coming days give us a chance to do this,” Zelenskyy said. “I would like to address the Polish society and express my gratitude to all those who can tell political manipulations from fundamental issues of national security,” Zelenskyy added.

Zelenskyy also expressed his readiness to personally attend the meeting at the Polish-Ukrainian border with the Ukrainian government.

“And I want to appeal now to the European Commission: we must preserve European unity. This is a fundamental interest of the European Union. Therefore, Ukraine is appealing to the European Commission to have a representative of the European Commission take part in this meeting,” Zelenskyy said.

At the end of his video message, President Zelenskyy spoke in Polish: “Enough of Moscow on our lands. Enough of misunderstandings. We cannot humiliate each other. We cannot humiliate either Ukrainian or Polish farmers. We need unity. We need a solution – between us, Ukraine and Poland, and for the whole of Europe.”

On 20 February, a new wave of mass protests by Polish farmers against Ukrainian agricultural imports started, with road blockades taking place in about a hundred locations across Poland, including roads, border checkpoints, ports, railways, and transshipment stations. During the protests, several incidents on the Polish-Ukrainian border have involved dumping Ukrainian grain and blocking passenger traffic at the border.

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.

Commenting on Polish farmers’ blocking of the border with Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the Polish authorities cannot restrict their right to legitimate protest.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is planning an additional route via the Danube River to boost exports to pre-war levels as Polish farmers escalated border protests over Ukrainian imports.

The proposed new route would run from the Ukrainian port of Izmail (Odesa Oblast, southern Ukraine) to Romania’s Constanta and the Danube ports of Germany.

Volumes via the Danube still amount to 1.2 million-1.8 million tons per month. However, Ukraine has also used road and rail for trade throughout the war, and export volumes via Poland have fallen to 300,000 tons per month from 1.3 million in 2022.

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