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Polish Farmer Protests Hurt Ukraine, Benefit Russia, Says Ukrainian Business Leader

FOOD & AGRICULTUREPolish Farmer Protests Hurt Ukraine, Benefit Russia, Says Ukrainian Business Leader

“The protests of Polish farmers have a high emotional component, and Russia benefits from the chaos,” believes Kateryna Glazkova, the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Association. She insists the border needs to be unconditionally unblocked before any productive discussions and negotiations can begin. The current situation is hurting Ukrainian businesses, including the defense industry. The blockade of transport routes with the friendly country of Poland is being considered a “disaster” on our eastern border.

“The border needs to be unblocked unconditionally, movement across the border must be resumed, and only then can we start productive discussions and negotiations,” says Kateryna Glazkova in an interview with a reporter from Newseria Biznes agency. “Ukraine is prepared for negotiations and discussions, within the European Union as well, but the question is what role Ukraine plays in these discussions according to Polish farmers. It needs to be a constructive conversation.”

Ukrainians are observing the farmers’ protests in Poland and note a strong emotional component.

“We see lorries cut open with grain spilling out, we see grain dumped from freight wagons, and this is overly emotional. We believe that we should return to rational discussion, as the farmers’ protests in Poland are damaging both to Ukraine and Poland,” says the expert.

On the Polish-Ukrainian border, on March 14, the waiting time for trucks in Dorohusk exceeded 77 hours, and in Hrebenne – 76 hours, according to data from the Chamber of Tax Administration in Lublin. The wait was shorter in Koroszczyn – 16 hours, and in Zosin – 10 hours.

“Blocking the border affects the transportation time of raw materials needed by Ukrainian companies. In this situation, it is even talked about disrupting supply chains, including to companies operating in the defense industry. People also work in these companies, who pay taxes, which are the only source of financing for our armed forces. Our country remains in a very difficult war and suffers from the fact that the border is blocked and that these chains are broken,” says Kateryna Glazkova.

The Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Association hopes the current problem would be solved at the level of intergovernmental negotiations, in which an agreement will be reached. The present situation raises many questions on the Ukrainian side.

“In Ukrainians, this certainly raises a lot of questions and incomprehension as to why Poland, which has done so much for Ukraine, who has accepted so many refugees, who first came with help, does something like this and why it is not being solved. Because if we go back to rational reasons, look at the actual demands of farmers and these slogans, most of them do not concern Ukraine-Poland relations, these are grievances to internal politics or EU politics,” believes the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Association.

According to Ukrainians, in the current difficult situation, Russia certainly benefits, which has chosen to destabilize not only the situation in Ukraine but also around it. The longer the situation persists, the more Russia is pleased, assesses Glazkova.

“If we look at the slogans with which farmers go and stand at the border, they often reek of Russian propaganda. We see that also because there is no ban on the import of grain and fertilizers from Russia, this also gives Russia the feeling that it can influence these prices. Furthermore, the money that Russia earns on exports is used for further production of weapons and for conducting war in Ukraine,” adds the expert.

Polish entrepreneurs also spoke out, taking a position jointly with their Ukrainian partners. Confederation Lewiatan, Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, and the Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Union appealed for cooperation with the European Commission to develop a real program aimed at eliminating the main economic causes leading to these regrettable actions. “Regardless of the differences of opinions and challenges in Polish-Ukrainian cooperation, the problems of any professional or social group cannot be solved by blocking borders and key transport routes,” it was written on the website of Confederation Lewiatan.

According to data from the Institute of East European Studies and Eurostat, in 2023, like the previous year, Poland was Ukraine’s largest trading partner among European Union countries. Our country’s share was about a quarter of the total turnover on the EU-Ukraine line. Poland’s share in the EU accounted for as much as 30.6% of exports and 19% of imports from our eastern neighbor.

This does not change the fact that goods imported from Ukraine make up only 1.3% of Polish imports. In the case of exports, the share of goods from Ukraine amounts to 3.2%. The Institute of East European Studies points out that Ukraine as a trading partner of Poland is at a level similar to the much smaller Slovakia. The value of Polish exports to Ukraine amounted last year to just over 11 billion euros, an increase of over 17% year on year.

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