Polish Hauliers' Blockade Delays Volunteer Aid to Ukrainian Defenders – Reuters

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Charities and non-governmental organisations that supply military aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine have faced several weeks of delays in critical supplies of drones, electronics and pickup trucks due to protests by Polish hauliers at the border with Ukraine.

According to Reuters, Taras Chmut, head of Ukraine's largest charity fund for the military, Come Back Alive, said that dozens of night vision systems and pickup trucks, as well as hundreds of drones purchased by the fund, had been stuck at the border for several weeks.

"This is not good, because they are tied to projects, timings and deadlines ... Things are getting through, but it is slower than it was before," he told Reuters.

Chmut added that Come Back Alive is trying to negotiate with the Polish authorities for the unimpeded passage of their aid, as Kyiv has no choice but to import many of the necessary items from abroad.

"Pickup trucks all come from abroad, night vision kits all come from abroad ... FPV drones generally come from abroad, and this (protest) slows down our work," he noted.

The protests at the border are also affecting manufacturers of military equipment, said Viktor Dolhopiatov, who runs the non-profit Engineering Corps, which produces various types of equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"If the blockade continues this could become, and already is becoming, a big problem," Dolhopiatov said.

He added that the blockade had already led to delays in the supply of parts for machines at his plant, as well as components for power units used in drone engines and radar stations.

"I am convinced that a large quantity of the parts going to private sector enterprises which work on defence projects are unfortunately currently standing at the border," he said.

Dolhopiatov said that the hauliers who let military cargo pass through often don’t do so with dual-use goods supporting the war effort.

A potential way around the blockade is to transport goods by regular cars rather than lorries, but this is much more expensive.

Anatolii Akulov, who runs the Ukraine in Armour charity foundation, which delivers both military and humanitarian aid, said the cost of shipping from Poland to Ukraine, which normally costs US$1,700 to US$2,300 per container, rose to about US$5,000 in November.

Akulov said that the delivery of drone parts and humanitarian supplies was delayed. Cargoes of fishing nets intended to be used as anti-drone nets have been waiting at the border for three weeks. 

"In order to bring in used fishing nets to protect our soldiers from Russian drones, I would need at least US$10,000," he explained. 

The Polish hauliers’ blockade has been going on since 6 November, their key demand being to bring back the permit system for Ukrainian hauliers. 

The current Polish government is set to demand that the European Union restore the permit system for Ukrainian hauliers.  

The European Commission stated that it is opposed to the reinstatement of the permit system for Ukrainian hauliers as the Polish and Slovak protesters are demanding.

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