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Polish farmers again block Medyka-Shehyni, 2 other crossings on Ukraine border

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 12, 2024 11:45 AM 2 min read
A banner reading 'Farmers Strike' during a protest by Polish farmers in Poznan, Poland, on Feb. 9, 2024. (Damian Lemaski/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Polish farmers resumed their blockade at the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing with Ukraine and additionally blocked the Uhryniv-Dolhobychuv and Zosin-Ustyluh crossings, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said on Feb. 12.

After the initial blockade between November 2023 and January, Polish farmers launched a new wave of protests at the Medyka-Shehyni, Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and Dorohusk-Yahodyn crossings on Feb. 9. Protests at the Medyka checkpoint were briefly suspended over the weekend.

"As Polish colleagues informed the Ukrainian border guards, today at 10:10 a.m., Polish farmers began protests near the Zosyn checkpoint. The protesters intend to allow three trucks weighing more than three and a half tons per hour," Border Guard spokesperson Andrii Demchenko told Ukrainska Pravda.

Cars, buses, vehicles with humanitarian aid, and other vehicles up to three and a half metric tons will be allowed to pass as usual, he added.

At around 10 a.m., about 150 protesters and 20 pieces of agricultural machinery began blocking the Uhryniv-Dolhobychuv crossing, according to Demchenko.

Protesters are allowing trucks weighing up to seven and a half metric tons in both directions, as well as trucks below seven and a half tons entering Poland. Two trucks will be allowed per hour in both directions, the spokesperson said.

At the Medyka-Shehyni checkpoint, one truck per hour will be allowed, but the movement of cars and buses should not be restricted, Demchenko said.

As of the morning of Feb. 12, 1,050 trucks are reportedly waiting in lines in Poland en route to Ukraine.

Footage appeared online on Feb. 11 showing Polish protesters spilling Ukrainian grain from standing trucks on the road near the Dorohusk crossing. Ukraine's Ambassador in Poland Vasyl Zvarych issued a protest, calling for a "decisive response" by Polish authorities.

The Polish police said they are looking into the incident.

The farmers announced the protests in advance, citing an alleged lack of action by Warsaw and Brussels to address the influx of Ukrainian goods. Earlier, Polish carriers and farmers blocked four crossings between November 2023 and January to protest Ukrainian imports and liberalization of permits for Ukrainian truckers.

The protests center around imports of agricultural goods from Ukraine, which Polish agricultural groups claim present unfair competition to their own businesses. Warsaw has banned the import of grain and several other products from Ukraine in 2023, but other items, such as sugar or poultry, continue to raise worries among Polish farmers.

Polish farmers agreed to suspend their initial blockade on Jan. 6 after Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski agreed to meet some of their demands, including corn subsidies, increasing liquidity loans, and keeping agricultural tax at the 2023 level.

A new wave of protests erupted on Jan. 24, blocking roads across Poland again in connection to imports from Ukraine and other non-EU countries.

The Solidarity trade union announced on Feb. 1 that they would block roads and border crossings with Ukraine between Feb. 9 and March 10 because of the supposed "passivity of the Polish authorities" and of the EU in solving the import issue.

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