Although, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we need to give Poland some time and everything will settle down, the situation at the Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoint, where as many as 2.5 thousand people are stuck, is on the verge of collapse. trucks. And from Monday, November 27, the round-the-clock blocking of the Medyka-Shehyni checkpoint begins. Would

Ukrainian truckers are forced to actually live in these queues. Because, on the one hand, drivers are responsible for the goods they carry, so they can't just abandon their trucks. On the other hand, the Polish police drive trucks into large parking lots near the roads. Very often it is near a field or forest, where there are no heating points or even toilets. Drivers are already running out of food, and they are forced to take water from locals who live nearby. Unfortunately, two Ukrainian drivers died in these queues. The case is being investigated by the Polish prosecutor's office.

Commenting on this stalemate, Ukrainian drivers say they have been held hostage by protesters who allegedly represent the interests of Polish carriers. And while the current Polish government has withdrawn, pretending that nothing is happening, the situation on the border is on the verge of collapse. Protesters threaten to block the Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoint until February. And this is a huge loss. Moreover, the border blockade may lead to a shortage of some goods and fuel in Ukraine, as many fuel trucks are also stuck in long queues.

TSN.ua visited the Polish-Ukrainian border and found out what Poland itself thinks about this blockade, which can harm bilateral relations between our countries even more than the grain crisis.

The Kremlin's Shadow: Why Russia May Be Behind the Blockade

Kyiv-Krakow-Kyiv

Perhaps the readers of TSN.ua will be very surprised, but in Poland itself, the media almost do not cover the collapse on the border with Ukraine. Newspapers don't write about it, there are no stories on television, and many ordinary Poles with whom we spoke first heard about this problem from us.

Currently, the interregnum is underway in the country. In the parliamentary elections on October 15, the united opposition of four political forces under the leadership of former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk won. Even the Sejm has already received a new speaker - Szyman Gołównia, who represents the Poland 2050 party, which is part of a new coalition with Tusk's Civic Coalition, the Polish Peasant Party and the New Left.

But President Andrzej Duda, representing the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which had previously ruled for two consecutive terms, which won the election, taking first place, but they will not be able to assemble a coalition, as well as votes for their government, gave the right to be the first to form a government to the current Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who also represents PiS.

Already on Monday, November 27, he is to present the composition of his new government. But, according to many Polish journalists covering domestic politics, it does not appear that Morawiecki is conducting any coalition or negotiations with potential candidates for ministerial positions at all. Therefore, Duda's decision to give Morawiecki the right to form a government is a stall for time to hurt the ratings of Tusk and his future government.

What's at stake? In Poland, the issue of the country's access to various EU structural funds is very much debated. Brussels blocked them due to the departure of Jaroslaw Kaczyński's Law and Justice from democratic standards, freedom of the press and the rule of law. The media are already writing: as soon as Tusk takes the post of prime minister, Poland will have access to additional EU funding. We are talking about as much as 60 billion euros. And in Poland, economic problems have already begun. Therefore, Law and Justice is doing everything possible to stall for time.

The blockade of the border with Ukraine is also a very good tool to harm the future of the Tusk government.

First, PiS and Kaczynski are well aware that their time in power has come to an end. It is not uncommon for them to blame Ukraine our ingratitude for their troubles. Therefore, as they say in Ukraine - "the barn is burning, the mountains and the house" - leaving, why not harm their successors, further spoiling relations with Ukraine.

Secondly, we repeat, the Polish economy is currently going through hard times. And, in just three quarters of this year, Polish exports to Ukraine increased by a third. Therefore, the blockade of the border is a shot in the foot and losses also for Polish manufacturers and carriers.

Who is behind the blockade? When the protest at the border was just beginning, TSN.ua already wrote that in fact there was a very specific political force behind it - the Confederation party. She was even predicted to form a coalition with Law and Justice if she won more than 6% in the October 15 election. Even at the stage of the election campaign, the "Confederation" advocated the cessation of assistance to Ukraine, calling even to stop the Ukrainization of Poland, and then actively participated in the ban on the import and transit of Ukrainian grain.

Formally, the action is carried out by the Committee for the Protection of Carriers and Employers in the Field of Transport, which was formed only in September. However, behind this blockade of the border, which has no end in sight, there are specific names, namely the head of the Lublin branch of the Confederation, Rafal Meckler, who is also the owner of a logistics company. He supported the protests of Polish farmers against the import of Ukrainian grain and even demanded that Ukraine pay 100 billion zlotys ($25 billion) for helping Poland during the Russian war.

According to our drivers, who have been queuing for several weeks, Meckler's logistics company is engaged in international transportation. Until February 24, 2022, they mainly focused on the market of Belarus and Russia. However, according to them, after the start of a full-scale war, they lost these markets. However, for some reason, they do not block the border with Belarus, blaming Ukrainians for everything.

Firstly, according to Yevhen Magda, Director of the Institute of World Policy, there is great interest in the actions of a group of Polish carriers of the Russian special services. The expert does not believe in their coincidence, because they are very calculated in time and space. Suffice it to mention the creation of the above-mentioned Committee in September this year, which seems to be officially behind the blockade. However, even on the part of Tuskʼs coalition, which is about to come to power (and the official appointment of Tusk as prime minister is expected in December), there are no statements about lifting the border blockade or solidarity with Ukraine.

"Secondly, they say that the Confederacy is behind them. But it doesn't really matter. This requires the cooperation of Ukrainian and Polish special services. A few years ago, Poland detained those involved in the arson of the building of the Society of Hungarian Culture in Berehove. Thirdly, we can't just count on Tusk, because he will have his own problems. If we believe that Tusk will come and restore order, this is quite naïve. Therefore, fourthly, we have to hold joint Polish-Ukrainian events on the territory of Poland, where we would prove why it is necessary to unblock the border, because in this way the Poles play into the hands of Russia, contribute to destabilizing the situation in Ukraine, spoil our relations, and also weaken Poland, which loses money that could be earned on transportation," Yevhen Magda commented to TSN.ua.

The border is held hostage: what Polish carriers demand

According to the expert, it is no coincidence that the demands are unacceptable - they cannot be fulfilled. This once again confirms the non-accidental nature of the blockade here and now. Some Ukrainian deputies even stated that Polish protesters are very often paid more than 4 thousand rubles. UAH per day. On the Polish side, there are accusations that Kyiv deliberately introduced the electronic system "eCherha" for crossing the border in order to profit from corruption.

However, the most important requirement is, of course, the resumption of the issuance of permits to Ukrainian drivers. Before the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine had bilateral treaties with each individual EU country in this regard. After February 24, 2022, Brussels canceled them, concluding an agreement with Kyiv on freight transportation by road. It is currently valid until June 30, 2024. According to the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Serhiy Derkach, in fact, the blockade survivors are seeking the abolition of this contract on freight transportation. However, Poland is not a signatory to the agreement, and the European Commission has already threatened Warsaw with sanctions for extending the blockade and violating European law.

However, experts doubt that the problem will get off the ground and the border will be unblocked until a new government of Donald Tusk is formed. According to Stanislav Zhelikhovskyi, Candidate of Political Sciences, international expert on international relations, the problem is that farmers from the association "Deceived Village" also joined the blockade. It was they who started the actions six months ago, which then grew into the well-known grain crisis. This movement is also associated with the Confederation party and Moscowʼs interests.

"And in the Civic Coalition itself, whose leader is Tusk, there are representatives who lobby for the interests of farming and were among the organizers of farmers' protests this spring. Plus, the coalition agreement was also signed by the Polish Peasant Party, for which it is the main nuclear electorate. Therefore, now, when the government has not yet been formed, and Tusk must receive a vote of confidence from these political forces that will vote, he cannot go against them by talking about lifting the border blockade. To some extent, he is on the stretch between Brussels and his co-coalition members, and, accordingly, the electorate of these political forces," Stanislav Zhelikhovsky told TSN.ua.

Of course, the European Union can also join the solution of the problem, becoming a kind of arbiter between Ukraine and Poland. After all, the road transport market for Poland is about 7% of GDP. Therefore, as we can see, not only the export of Ukrainian grain will be a problem that will need to be solved on the way to our accession to the EU. In addition, before Poland's accession to the EU in 2004, the leaders in the European road transport market were Germans, French and Italians. However, for some reason, they did not block the borders when the Poles began to compete with them.

"In this blockade, I see not so much, perhaps, some economic or financial demands to return to the issuance of permits or the abolition of the eCherha for Polish carriers. It's just a screen. These are political landmines on the part of PiS [against the future Tusk government - ed.]. We can't prove it. But the Confederation is involved there, which was predicted to have a coalition with PiS. Now, when Tusk's government is formed, of all the political forces that entered parliament in the October 15 elections, two political forces are in opposition - Law and Justice and the Confederation. That is, in fact, to some extent, they can be situational allies," Stanislav Zhelikhovsky added.

According to the Federation of Employers and the Association of International Road Carriers of Ukraine, during these three weeks of the blockade, direct losses of the Ukrainian economy amounted to 400 million euros, and indirect losses - up to several billion. And, despite the promises of the blockaders to let humanitarian aid and fuel through, most of them are also blocked in this queue. The other day, Russia carried out the most massive attack with Shahed drones, aiming to repeat last year's attempt to destroy our critical infrastructure. Therefore, the shortage of fuel in the conditions of a full-scale war with Russia is the "best" that the current and future government of Poland can do during the winter with its inaction.

Hungary and Slovakia can no longer cope with the flow of cars, because everyone goes there from the blocked Polish border. Food and medicine have already been delivered to Ukrainian truckers stuck in queues. The Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development has also started collecting data for the evacuation of drivers. Currently, according to Serhiy Derkach, about 20 truckers want to go to Ukraine for a certain time until the problem is resolved.