Poland mulling ‘temporary’ border closure with Ukraine for goods

Poland mulling ‘temporary’ border closure with Ukraine for goods
Poland mulling ‘temporary’ border closure with Ukraine for goods

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Polish farmers have been blocking border crossings with Ukraine and other highways to protest at what they say is unfair competition from goods entering the Polish market from their war-torn neighbour. — AFP pic

WARSAW, Feb 29 — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said yesterday the government was mulling a “temporary” closure of the border with Ukraine for goods, amid tensions over low-priced Ukrainian grain.

Polish farmers have been blocking border crossings with Ukraine and other highways to protest at what they say is unfair competition from goods entering the Polish market from their war-torn neighbour.

“We are talking with the Ukrainian side about a temporary closure of the border, the cessation in general of trade,” Tusk told reporters.

“I will also discuss this with Polish farmers tomorrow. This solution would only be temporary... and mutually painful,” he added.

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“I am prepared to take even a firm decision when it comes to the border with Ukraine, always in consultation with Kyiv, so that there won’t be any unnecessary tensions between Warsaw and Kyiv,” Tusk said, emphasising the need for a “long-term solution.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka said the measure was “not mentioned during the entire four hours” of meeting with Polish ministers on Wednesday.

He remained optimistic that the two neighbours could find a solution to unblock the border.

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“It’s not easy, but it’s possible,” he said.

Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov confirmed that “no one from the Ukrainian side is negotiating the closure of the border with Poland”.

Russia has blocked crucial Black Sea trade routes used by Ukraine to export its farm produce.

In a bid to help Kyiv economically after the Russian invasion, the European Union decided in 2022 to drop tariffs on Ukrainian goods transiting the 27-nation bloc by road.

But logistical problems mean much of Ukraine’s cereal exports has accumulated in EU-member Poland, undercutting local producers.

Poland’s ties with Ukraine have become increasingly strained over the border blockades and the grain dispute, with at least four incidents of Polish farmers spilling Ukrainian grain from lorries and freight trains.

On Sunday, eight train carriages carrying Ukrainian corn were prised open and tonnes spilled onto rail tracks.

Kyiv urged Warsaw to put an end to “impunity” over the “acts of vandalism”. — AFP

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