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RFE/RL: Ukrainian truckers stuck in blockade at Polish border planning hunger strike

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 1, 2023 5:30 PM 2 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)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Ukrainian truckers who have been stuck at the Polish border for two weeks amid an ongoing blockade by Polish truckers say they will go on a hunger strike if their demands to ease the roadblock are not met, a Ukrainian trucker told RFE/RL on Dec. 1.

Ukrainian trucker Roman Vlasiuk said that seven trucks per hour should be allowed to cross, which then should increase to 14. If these demands are not met, the group of around 200 truckers will "officially declare a hunger strike" and "switch to only water and tea."

He added that 2,000 trucks are stuck at the Krakovets-Korczowa crossing alone.

Polish police, armed with anti-riot equipment such as pepper spray, have surrounded the group, telling them the gathering of that size is unlawful. The police would not allow the Ukrainian truckers to talk to their Polish counterparts, Vlasiuk said. Two representatives were finally able to go negotiate, he added.

Polish truckers claim that the lack of entry permits for Ukrainian trucks is hurting business for Polish drivers and blocking three border crossing points since Nov. 6.

A fourth crossing was blocked on Nov. 27.

The EU has warned the Polish government to ensure the end of the blockade.

Slovak truckers have also announced similar protests and blockades, and Ukrainian truckers began a counterprotest on the Polish side of the border on Nov. 28.

Conditions have continued to worsen for the truckers as the weather gets colder. Two Ukrainian truckers have already died while waiting at the border, both reportedly of natural causes. One of them had been waiting at the border for more than three days prior to his death.

Negotiations have so far yet to bring an end to the situation.

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…
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