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Polish farmers to resume blockade of Ukrainian border after temporary reprieve

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 3, 2024 4:51 PM 2 min read
Trucks stuck during a blockade at the Dorohusk Polish-Ukrainian border crossing on Nov. 21, 2023 near Chelm, Poland. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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Polish farmers will resume their blockade on Jan. 4 of the Shehyni-Medyka crossing at the Polish-Ukrainian border, the Polish Press Agency reported on Jan. 3, citing Roman Kondrow, the leader of a Polish farmers organization involved in the protest.

Polish truckers have been blocking four crossings with Ukraine, including Shehyni-Medyka, since November in protest of the EU's liberalization of transit rules for Ukrainian truckers. Polish farmers announced they were joining the protest starting Nov. 23, but said they would suspend it one month later on Dec. 24.

Kondrow said that his organization of Polish farmers, "Betrayed Countryside," had demanded written assurances about subsidies for growing corn, increased loans, and a maintenance of the agricultural tax at the current rate.  

In lieu of such demands being explicitly guaranteed by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Kondrow said that the protest would continue on Jan. 4, and be stricter than before.

Kondrow said that Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski visited the border blockade in late December and promised that the farmers' grievances would be addressed but that he wanted an answer from Tusk because he "rules the whole country."

Military equipment, humanitarian aid, dangerous goods, and perishable items would still be allowed to pass, Kondrow said, but other trucks would only be allowed to pass at the rate of one per hour.

Disputes surrounding the ban on importing Ukrainian grain evolved into a larger diplomatic spat in September 2023. Tusk has pledged to end the blockade, but members of his governing coalition have also indicated they plan to maintain the grain import ban.

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