Ukraine grain deliberately spilt at Polish border as protests intensify

22-02 | |
Photo: Chris McCullough
Photo: Chris McCullough

Angry Polish farmers and trucks drivers are staging protests at the border with Ukraine over cheap imports of grain they claim are destroying their market.

Tensions are high as more Ukrainian grain enters Poland resulting in some truck and train loads of grain being targeted and spilt by the farmers.

Ukrainian farmers mount counter protest

Ukrainian farmers and truck drivers have also mounted a counter protest on their side of the border blocking Polish trucks from entering Ukraine with their tradeable goods.

Officials on both sides call for calm

Both the Polish and Ukrainian governments, which are normally allies, have called for calm. Officials in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv have asked the European Commission to step in and diffuse the situation.

Poland has been a strong supporter of its neighbour since Russia declared war in Ukraine in 2022, but those ties have been strained as Polish farmers claim there is now unfair competition on the grain market.

EU allowed Ukraine tariff-free access

Several border crossings have been blocked by farmers, as well as a number of roads leading to the border on the Polish side. Thousands of trucks are now backed up trying to cross the border to deliver their loads.

Ukraine normally exports its grain worldwide via shipping ports on the Black Sea. However, that avenue has been blocked by the Russians who continuously bomb the ports.

Since then the European Union allowed Ukraine tariff-free access to its markets, but that has created tension with a number of EU countries, including Poland.

Polish authorities negotiating with farmers

Polish President Andrzej Duda said the government is negotiating with the farmers and trade unions to resolve the issue.

He said: “We are trying to solve this problem. This is a certain conflict of interests between farmers and producers of agricultural products in Ukraine, farmers who fear for their existence.”

Photo: Chris McCullough
Photo: Chris McCullough

Polish farmers invited to see conditions in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food strongly condemned the actions taken by the Polish protesters.

A spokesman said: “We are closely monitoring the investigation of this incident and expect the perpetrators to be quickly identified and punished.

“We understand when Polish farmers defend their interests in a civilised manner. However, this case of destruction of Ukrainian wheat has nothing to do with peaceful protest, either legally or morally.

“For 2 years of the full-scale invasion, Ukrainian farmers have been working under constant enemy fire and suffering huge losses. They have been harvesting grain extremely hard and sometimes at the cost of their lives.”

The Ministry invited Polish farmers to visit Ukraine to see the conditions in which Ukrainian farmers are currently working. It said around four million small farmers in Ukraine are ready to share their experience with their Polish counterparts.

We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to the Poles who have helped and continue to help the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.

Ukrainian spokesman said

“We would also like to note that we are absolutely confident that such incidents will not affect our common struggle and the great support of the Polish people, which we have been experiencing for 2 years in the war against the Russian invader.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is willing to meet the Polish government and farmers at the border and address their concerns.

The President said: “We have had enough of Moscow’s presence in our lands. We have had enough of misunderstandings. We should not humiliate each other, we should not humiliate either Ukrainian or Polish farmers. We need unity. We need solutions, between us, Ukraine and Poland, and at the level of the whole of Europe.”

Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist