How a Small Group of Poles Took Two Countries Hostage

Friday, 10 November 2023

On 6 November, dozens of Polish hauliers began blocking three border crossings with Ukraine in Hrebenne, Dorohusk and Korczowa.

Ukrainian and Polish companies are already experiencing losses. Relations between the two countries, which have not yet recovered from the grain conflict, are also suffering.

Read more about the conflict in the article by Pavlo Kravchuk, Europe Without Barriers's expert – Who Is behind Blockade of Ukraine: Radicals Who Blocked Polish Border.

In reports and analyses of these events, you will mostly come across the term "hauliers," but this is a very vague. There are many hauliers in Poland, each with different interests and business affairs.

A deeper search leads us to the recently created organisation "The Committee to Protect Transporters and Transport Employers," which was mentioned first in September. Several owners of Polish companies, who participated in previous border blockades, are members of this organisation.

Another active participant in the blockade is Rafał Mekler, the owner of a transport company and the head of the Lublin branch of Confederation, a Polish far-right party with a radically anti-Ukrainian rhetoric and ties to Russia.

Both Mekler and Confederation actively lobby and publicise the blockade.

This is the only Polish parliamentary party that supported this action. Moreover, on 3 November, Confederation leaders organised a press conference in the Sejm announcing the blockade with the participation of hauliers from the "Committee."

Unlike the agrarian-grain protests and previous haulier blockades in 2022-2023, this strike has no support from the majority of hauliers or Polish authorities.

It is strange, but there is not even a clear, unified list of demands from the protesters, who have simultaneously affected two countries. Different sources provide different demands that are constantly changing.

The only thing that can be said for certain is that the demand for the return of permits has been deemed unrealistic both in Ukraine and in Poland.

As of 9 November 2023, the blockade has managed to achieve huge losses for Ukrainian hauliers and exporters, the risk of disrupting the supply of military and humanitarian cargo, losses for Polish companies, a humanitarian catastrophe on Polish territory, where thousands of vehicles are stranded at the entrance to Ukraine without access to facilities.

But most importantly, trust in Poland is eroded in Ukraine.

The action at the border is in reality, at best, a PR move for the newly created organisation "The Committee to Protect Transporters and Transport Employers" and its affiliated political party Confederation.

In any case, defending the interests of Polish hauliers is just a cover.

Meanwhile, the negative impact on the Ukrainian and not only economy, as well as on Poland's image in Ukraine, is evident.

In fact, a small group, driven by private interests, has taken the economy and national security of two large countries hostage.

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