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Official: Ukraine asks Poland to open additional checkpoints for empty cargo vehicles

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 24, 2023 9:04 PM 2 min read
Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi at the Grain Ukraine conference on June 1, 2023. (Agriculture Ministry)
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Ukraine has asked Poland to open additional checkpoints for the passage of empty cargo vehicles to alleviate Ukrainian and Polish truckers as the blockade continues, Interfax-Ukraine reported on Nov. 24, citing Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi.

"Currently, regarding the crossing (of the Ukrainian-Polish border), the idea of opening an additional point, at least one, and perhaps several, for the passage of empty vehicles is being discussed with the Polish side," Vysotskyi said on television on Nov. 23 following negotiations between Ukraine, Poland and the European Commission.

"This will speed up the movement of trucks in both directions, which will help Ukrainian and Polish carriers work better."

Polish haulers started blocking cargo vehicles at several border crossings with Ukraine on Nov. 6 to protest the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks.

Four checkpoints have been blocked so far, and a fifth is being considered. Thousands of vehicles remain stranded at the crossings.

Ukraine is preparing to evacuate stranded drivers as weather conditions worsen. Two Ukrainian truckers have died while waiting at the border, likely of natural causes.

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Kyiv appealed to Warsaw to stop the blockade, citing health risks to the stranded drivers, as well as economic fallout and problems with humanitarian aid deliveries.

Vysotskyi noted that there are cases when humanitarian supplies are not allowed through.

"We are talking about a violation of basic international conventions regarding the free movement of critical goods," the official said.

Talks with the Polish side on the blockade are scheduled to take place on Nov. 25, according to Vysotskyi.

Polish truckers have complained that the high number of Ukrainian drivers entering Poland are hauling goods from Poland to other countries, undercutting local businesses that cannot match cheaper Ukrainian prices.

Ukrainian officials and industry representatives deny the accusations. The EU has warned the Polish government to ensure the end of the blockade.

A similar protest was launched by Slovak haulers at the Vysne Nemecke-Uzhhorod crossing earlier this week.

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