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Polish PM Tusk urges farmers to stop blocking the Ukrainian border

“We cannot in any way harm Ukraine in a situation where the fate of the war is being decided,” he said after the European Council summit in Brussels.
Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk. Credit: Donald Tusk Źródło / Facebook / Platforma Obywatelska
Polish PM Tusk urges farmers to stop blocking the Ukrainian border

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called on protesting farmers to stop blocking the border with Ukraine, Polskie Radio reports. Following the European Council summit in Brussels, the head of government spoke about the extremely difficult situation Ukraine finds itself in after the latest series of Russian bombings. According to the Polish Prime Minister, the coming period may be decisive for the fate of the war.

I want to appeal to everyone in Poland without exception not to do anything that could harm Ukraine,” said the Prime Minister. “We will have to make decisions that will protect the Polish border and border crossings,” he added.

Donald Tusk emphasized that the Polish authorities cannot allow the blocking of crossings, regardless of the justification for the protests. “We cannot in any way harm Ukraine in a situation where the fate of the war is being decided,” said Donald Tusk.

The Prime Minister reminded that border crossings, according to the latest government decision, have the status of critical infrastructure. He announced that the government is ready to provide further assistance to those Polish entrepreneurs who have lost part of their income under current circumstances.

I am counting on reflection and abandoning this form of protest,” he said.

He added that state services will work to clear the border crossings. However, the head of government does not believe that direct coercive measures are needed in this case.

During the summit in Brussels, country leaders also discussed strengthening Ukraine’s air defense. On Saturday, Germany decided to hand over the Patriot system to Ukrainians. EU country leaders called on other countries to follow Germany’s example.

This does not apply to Poland, said Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Poland, as a country bordering Russia and Belarus, needs to increase its air defense capabilities.

Polish blockade of the Ukrainian border

Polish truckers’ and farmers started their border blockade on 6 November 2023, claiming that the influx of Ukrainian products creates additional competition in the Polish market. The blockade has caused significant delays in the delivery of vital military supplies to Ukraine, including drones and pickup trucks essential for battlefield logistics. On 20 February 2024, Polish farmers intensified their protests by blocking highways and railways near the Medyka-Shehyni checkpoint and spilling grain. These actions underscored tensions over Ukrainian agricultural imports​.

At some points during the blockade, over 3,000 trucks were standing in queues at each of the six checkpoints between the countries. The demands of the protesters included the reintroduction of permits for Ukrainian trucks. These demands were seen as part of a broader request for revisions to the EU-Ukraine transit liberalization deal​. Ukraine partially met the demands, although it insisted that one-sided Polish blockade or trade demands are unacceptable given the single EU market and its policy being defined in Brussels.

The blockade has not only caused economic damage but also human casualties. Three Ukrainian truck drivers have died under harsh conditions while waiting at the border due to the blockade.

On 8 April 2024, representatives from key European Union institutions agreed to extend the free trade agreement with Ukraine, albeit with stricter restrictions on imports of certain agricultural products. Imports of some products will be limited by the average volumes observed from mid-2021 to the end of 2023. Including the 2021 year in the limitations calculation will cause nearly EUR 331 million in losses for Ukraine.

How to unblock the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing for good

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