Ukrainian government visits border, proposes plan to Poland to solve blockade

The Ukrainian government has developed and proposed a five-point plan to Poland to solve the ongoing blockade led by Polish farmers, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Feb. 23 after visiting the border and speaking to Ukrainian truckers.

Polish farmers launched a new wave of protests on the border in early February in opposition to Ukrainian agricultural imports to the EU, claiming that Ukrainian imports create unfair competition and the European Commission’s Green Deal policies.

The situation escalated on Feb. 20, when some protesters dumped Ukrainian grain on railway tracks and displayed anti-Ukrainian posters. Protesters again dumped agricultural products from a Ukrainian train at a border crossing with Poland on Feb. 23, Ukrainian Railways reported.

President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed on Feb. 21 that the Polish government come to the border to meet its Ukrainian counterparts and discuss “pragmatic” solutions.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk rejected this proposal, responding on Feb. 22 that a meeting between the two governments is already planned for March in Warsaw.

“The issue of blocking the border should be resolved much earlier than 28 March, the date when a joint meeting of the governments of Ukraine and Poland is to take place,” Shmyhal said.

Shmyhal visited the border with other members of Ukraine’s government, including Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Minister Olha Stefanishyna, and Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko.

Shymhal said the plan would entail Ukraine agreeing to automatic safeguard measures, restricting imports of Ukrainian poultry, eggs, and sugar, and extending the verification mechanism on grain, corn, sunflower, and rapeseed.

This aligns with the European Commission’s proposal to export poultry, eggs, and sugar goods to the EU “in volumes no greater than the average in 2022 and 2023,” with restrictions imposed if Ukraine exports more, Shmyhal said.

Other steps in the plan include launching a joint control system at the border between Ukraine and the EU, and calling on the European Commission for a ban on Russian agricultural exports to the EU.

Ukraine’s plan “is a fair approach that benefits Poland,” Shmyhal said.

“We are far from such an agreement,” Jan Grabiec, the head of Donald Tusk’s office, reportedly responded to the plan.

Poland has supported Ukraine from the first days of the war, but Warsaw must protect the interests of Polish farmers, Tusk said at a press conference on Feb. 22.

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