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European Parliament members urge Duda, EU leaders to take action on Polish border blockade

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 9, 2023 3:33 PM 3 min read
Trucks stand in line in Medyka, Poland, amid an ongoing blockade by Polish truckers on Nov. 23, 2023. (Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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A group of European Parliament members called on Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and EU leaders “to act decisively" to end the blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius published the joint statement signed by 18 more European Parliament members on X on Dec. 9.

Polish protesters have been blocking the movement of cargo trucks at four border checkpoints since November, mainly in protest of the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks prompted by Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.

As drivers remain stranded in freezing temperatures and impacts on Ukraine's economy mount, negotiations between Kyiv and Warsaw have failed to bring a lasting solution so far.

MEPs emphasized that the blockade is weakening Ukraine's ability to defend itself against Russian aggression as military equipment and components for its manufacture are imported across the border.

The New York Times published a story on Dec. 7 in which a Ukrainian soldier, known only as Oleksandr, said that the blockade had prevented his unit from receiving much-needed night vision devices.

Polish Vice Minister of National Defense Marcin Ociepa denied such accusations on Dec. 8, saying that vehicles with military aid are escorted by military police and cross the border “in a completely different way.”

Trucker protests: Unraveling the standoff between Polish and Ukrainian haulers
As Polish protests blocking three major Poland-Ukraine border crossings stretch into their third week, negotiations to bring an end to the blockade have all but failed. Exhausted drivers are stuck in massive lines on both sides of the border, with expected waiting times reaching over one month at t…

Similarly, the actions of Polish protesters complicate the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid from European volunteers, reads the MEPs’ statement.

The protesters have said that humanitarian aid and essential goods would not be subject to the blockade, but representatives of Ukrainian trucking companies have complained they were prevented from transporting medical equipment and other non-commercial goods.

“The ongoing blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border crossings similar to that of Russia against Ukraine and the failure of the Polish government to take measures to end it is, in fact, denigrating the people of the whole European Union, including Poland, who are staunch supporters of Ukraine,” the MEPs wrote.

“Such a situation is completely unacceptable: it serves only the interests of the Kremlin and seriously damages the reputation not only of Poland but of the European Union as a whole.”

According to EU rules, Ukrainian trucks do not require permits until June 30, 2024, after the EU and Ukraine signed an agreement in June 2022 to liberalize transport rules. ​​Polish truckers say they are at a severe disadvantage because their Ukrainian counterparts do not need to purchase expensive permits to enter the EU.

The MEPs argued that since it was the EU that allowed Ukrainian truckers to cross into Poland without permits, "it should therefore be an EU-level action to ensure the compliance with the EU decision."

Anger and disappointment in endless lines of Ukrainian trucks at Polish border
As Polish haulers’ blockade of border checkpoints with Ukraine stretches into its second month, thousands of Ukrainian truckers remain stranded in huge lines waiting to cross into their homeland. They say they’re losing patience. Though the estimated waiting time has somewhat dropped since the star…
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