How blockade of Ukrainian border organised and how Polish government playing into protesters's hands

Monday, 4 March 2024

On 1 March, Polish hauliers renewed their border blockade, dramatically worsening the already difficult situation with the passage of goods.

And most importantly, it confirmed the failure of the attempt by Donald Tusk's government to unblock the border by reaching a compromise with the protesters.

As European Pravda predicted, the blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border has become a convenient lever with which to put pressure on the government, even on issues that have nothing to do with Ukraine.

Read more in the article by Yurii Panchenko, European Pravda's editor, who went to the Polish side of the border to see how the blockade is organised – Report from the border: how Polish authorities and protesters are blocking trade with Ukraine.


29 February, the last day of winter, was also the last day of the blockade by Polish farmers alone. Their actions have often caused outrage in Ukraine in recent weeks.

Medyka is also where the most intense events of recent weeks have taken place – attacks on Ukrainian freight, symbolic acts of spilling grain, and even attacks on trains.

There are two border crossings nearby – one for pedestrians and vehicles, and one rail border (the train to Przemyśl, popular with Ukrainians, crosses the border there).

But the Polish police did their "cleanup work", and now there is little left to remind us of those turbulent events.

The picket is not right in front of the checkpoint, by the way, as it may appear in the news – it’s a couple of kilometres away from the border. On 29 February, there were a dozen or so protesters camping and resting there.

There are far more police officers than protesters, plus huge numbers of Polish flags and posters.

All the protesters' posters are critical of the EU’s Green Deal, which Polish farmers are demanding should be reviewed. The only slogan that could possibly be described as "anti-Ukrainian" is a call to ban honey imports.

But this pretty picture is shattered when you talk to the Ukrainian lorry drivers.

They say that after crossing the Polish border, they have to wait three more days to get through the protesters' checkpoint – in addition to almost a month of waiting in Ukraine, although that’s in an electronic rather than a regular queue.

The reason for the long wait at the checkpoint is because both entry and exit protesters have been letting only one vehicle through per hour.

The first of March was always going to be difficult. That was the day on which the Polish hauliers had vowed they would renew their blockade. 

On the first day of spring, the passage of lorries through Medyka was completely blocked.

The situation was even more problematic at the Korczowa checkpoint a few dozen kilometres away.

Korczowa is a larger border crossing point and more significant for lorry traffic. 

The protesters’ slogans have also changed as the blockade has intensified. 

While the farmers now emphasise that they are protesting against the EU and the border is just a convenient location to get their voices heard by the government, the Polish hauliers make no secret of the fact that their blockade is directed against Ukraine.

The protesting hauliers are noticeably more aggressive than the farmers. 

Two days at the Ukrainian-Polish border have given us enough evidence to draw several conclusions.

Firstly, the blockade in its current form would have been impossible without the active involvement of the Polish police and border guards.

Secondly, the Polish protesters’ actions often provoke Ukrainians into conflict.

The Ukrainian drivers also believe that the blockade does not apply to everyone.

The drivers are convinced that the border blockade is creating opportunities for some.

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