Ukraine Says Polish Border Blockade Is Hurting War Effort

(Bloomberg News/TNS) — A border blockade by Polish farmers is hurting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself as the country awaits essential supplies in its fight against Russia, a senior official in Kyiv said.

The transit of humanitarian deliveries, perishable goods and fuel were being blocked from the Polish side of Ukraine’s border at six crossing points, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhiy Derkach said on the ministry’s social-media page on Monday. 

“This is a direct impact on our defense capability,” Derkach said. Almost 3,000 trucks are stuck waiting to enter Ukraine, he said, adding that there was no such pileup on the Ukrainian side of the frontier. 

Polish authorities pushed back, saying deliveries of military aid and other essentials are taking place under police escort and given priority at the border, according to Michal Derus, a spokesman for the National Revenue Administration in the eastern city of Lublin. 

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, condemned instances of protesters blocking civilian passengers at the border, saying that women and children affected by the war should not become “hostages of business interests.” He cited a video circulating on social media showing demonstrators preventing a passenger bus from crossing the border. 

Kubrakov met with the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau, Jacek Siewiera, to discuss the blockade. 

Decrying what they call the illegal flow of Ukrainian food products, farmers plan to expand protests on Tuesday with tactics including tractor blockades in major cities in Poland. They’ll aim to close off all of the border crossings with Ukraine, railway links and ports on the Baltic Sea. 

The unfolding protests present a political conundrum for Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who just weeks after taking office in December managed to quell a months-long blockade by truck drivers. His administration is striking a balance between assuaging a group that has political power in Poland while not disrupting needed aid to Kyiv. 

Farmers have demanded that the government seal off the border, calling an influx of Ukrainian goods “smuggling,” citing what they call low-quality products such as grain and rapeseed. Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski, who has sought a compromise, called the demands unrealistic. 

Ukraine, which is grappling with an intensifying shortage of ammunition and other military aid, relies on shipments via Poland as a primary transit route. 

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