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Polish, Ukrainian governments should meet at border, Zelensky says

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 21, 2024 7:11 PM 2 min read
PPolish farmers inspect a Ukrainian truck that wishes to pass during the ongoing blockade by Polish farmers at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Dorohusk, Poland on Feb. 21, 2024. (Omar Marques/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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The Polish government, including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, should come to the border with Ukraine to meet its Ukrainian counterparts and solve the ongoing blockade led by Polish farmers, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message on Feb. 21.

Polish farmers launched a new wave of protests on the border in early February in response to Ukrainian agricultural imports and the EU's Green Deal. The situation escalated on Feb. 20, when some protesters dumped Ukrainian grain on railway tracks and displayed anti-Ukrainian posters.

"This is the grain that our farmers and peasants cultivate with great difficulty, despite all of the hardships caused by Russia's brutal aggression," Zelensky said.

"Enough misunderstandings," Zelensky said, urging Ukraine and Poland to find unity and solutions at a bilateral, as well as at a European level.

Zelensky said he instructed Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, and other ministers, "from logistics to agriculture," to prepare to arrive at the border by Feb. 24.

"The border blockade, unfortunately, increases the threat to the supply of weapons to our soldiers on the front lines," meaning the protests are an issue of national security," Zelensky said.

Poll: Fewer Ukrainians consider Poland ‘a friendly country’ than last year
The share of Ukrainians who perceive Poland as “a friendly country” has decreased from 94% to 79% since June last year, according to a poll by the Sociological Group Rating published on Feb. 21.

"Ukraine wants to resolve the situation at the border together and justly," in a "pragmatic way," Zelensky captioned the video in Polish, urging Polish President Andrzej Duda to "support this dialogue."

"I am ready to be at the border with our government," Zelensky said.

Poland has been one of Ukraine's staunchest allies since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, but the relations began to sour somewhat last year over agricultural trade disputes.

Both countries are major agricultural producers. When the EU lifted restrictions and tariffs on Ukrainian goods in 2022, farmers in Poland and other neighboring countries complained that cheaper imports from Ukraine presented an unfair advantage.

In protest, Polish carriers and farmers blocked Poland-Ukraine border crossings between November 2023 and January, harming Ukraine's economy and causing delays in humanitarian aid deliveries.

Polish farmers launched the new blockade at the Ukraine border in February due to what they perceive as inaction and broken promises by Polish authorities.

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