Espreso. Global

Ukrainian producers pose no threat to Polish market — Ukrainian minister

11 March, 2024 Monday

Ukraine aims to oust Russian agricultural products from the EU market, and there are no threats to Polish farmers

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Recovery and Minister for Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure, said this in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

He mentioned that amid pan-European farmers' strikes for subsidy protection and local elections in Poland, various political factions have started to capitalize on the notion of safeguarding agricultural markets and transport sectors. While these strikes initiated during the tenure of the previous government, it is undoubtedly the responsibility of the new administration to address these issues in collaboration with us and the European Union.

"As for the essence of the problem. First, Poles import agricultural products from Russia without queues through Belarus. This was recently shown by your fellow journalists. And this is also confirmed by official statistical information. Second, the transit of Ukrainian exports through Poland has actually decreased threefold compared to 2022. In some months, when we were at our peak, we exported about a million tons of agricultural products through Poland. And now it is 350,000-370,000 tons. Everything else goes through the Black Sea and the Danube. And there are no threats to the Polish market," the minister said.

Kubrakov noted that there is official confirmation from Polish officials that Ukrainian agricultural products do not enter their market, but rather transit to other countries.

"For our part, we also explain this to Polish society through all available mechanisms. Do not look for enemies here (not in Ukraine - ed.), we have one common enemy - Russia," he emphasized.

The official believes that Polish society has become a victim of propaganda fueled by some Polish politicians, who tell their citizens lies about Ukrainian agricultural products and hauliers.

"They (individual politicians - ed.) are playing on this topic. And, unfortunately, they have received support from a part of Polish society. This is how propaganda works. People do not understand or do not know the details, and they believe that we have simply destroyed their farmers, that our agricultural products have flooded all their markets, and now there is no place for them. This is not true," Kubrakov said.

In addition, the minister emphasized that the governments of Ukraine and Poland are not negotiating to close the border, because it is "suicide."

"We are talking about opening new additional checkpoints and unblocking the existing ones," the official explained.

Protests on the border between Poland and Ukraine

On February 7, Polish farmers sent an official notice to resume strikes on the border with Ukraine. The blocking of the Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoint began on February 9. The protest was approved by local authorities until March 9.

Earlier, the Polish farmers' union Solidarity announced a general strike across the country on February 9. At the time, it was noted that it would begin with the blockade of all checkpoints on the border with Ukraine, as well as the blocking of roads and highways in certain regions.

The reason for the resumption of the protests is simple: according to one of the organizers of the action, Roman Kondruv, it is because the authorities have done nothing about the problems of technical grain from Ukraine since the previous actions.

On February 12, at the Ukrainian-Polish border, near the Yaрodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint, Poles poured grain from Ukrainian trucks onto the ground.

On February 20, they promised to block all border crossings with Ukraine for a month. Ukrainian carriers held their own peaceful protest in response to the actions of Polish farmers. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine stated that it had not received any information from the Polish side regarding the complete blocking of the border. In response to the Polish blockade, Ukrainian carriers are preparing a protest at three checkpoints.

On February 20, Polish farmers on the border with Ukraine blocked the railroad and poured grain out of a freight car. Later it turned out that it was headed to Germany.

On the evening of February 20, Polish protesters eased traffic restrictions near the border with Ukraine at two checkpoints, including Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and began allowing cars to pass through.

Poland's Consul General in Lviv condemned the border blockade and apologized to Ukraine, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal later said that Ukraine and Poland were "ready for reasonable compromises" on negotiations on the situation on the border.

Polish protesters temporarily stopped blocking the Ustyluh-Zosyn checkpoint after blocking it the day before.

On February 25, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that Poland had already brought the first offenders on the Ukrainian-Polish border to justice, and that they faced imprisonment.

On March 4, it was reported that Ukraine had lost about UAH 8 billion in customs payments, and businesses had lost more than EUR 1.5 billion due to border blockades by Polish protesters.

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