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Ukraine prepared to evacuate Ukrainian truckers stuck in Polish border blockade

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 24, 2023 10:53 AM 2 min read
An aerial view shows a procession of trucks forming an ongoing blockade in protest as Polish truck drivers continue to demonstrate at the Dorohusk Polish-Ukrainian border crossing on Nov. 21, 2023. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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Kyiv is preparing to evacuate Ukrainian truckers who have been stuck in the border blockade orchestrated by Polish truckers, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhii Derkach said on Nov. 23.

Conditions have continued to worsen for the truckers as the weather gets colder, and "we have run out of time to compromise," said Derkach.

He also shared a form that truckers could fill out if they wished to be evacuated.

Earlier on Nov. 23, a Ukrainian trucker died while waiting at the border. Polish authorities said that the man had likely died of natural causes, but the matter was still being investigated. The trucker had reportedly been waiting at the border for more than three days.

He was the second to die during the blockade- another trucker died on Nov. 12, also most likely of natural causes.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Poland appealed to the Polish government to end the blockade after the second trucker's death, stressing that it was threatening people's lives.

The deaths and disruption associated with the blockade that has now stretched into its third week have piled up, coupled with news of an accompanying blockade by Slovak truckers on the border with Slovakia.

Polish truckers started blocking three border crossing points on Nov. 6 in protest of the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks, causing huge lines on both sides of the border.

Polish truckers complain 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.

Although the protesting Polish truckers said that the blockade would only apply to non-essential goods, Ukrinform reported on Nov. 20 that trucks carrying humanitarian aid or fuel and other essential goods had been on standby at the border for days.

Four checkpoints have been blocked so far, and a fifth is being considered.

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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