In a regional dispute on Monday, the Ukrainian government demanded that Poland should punish farmers who obstructed Ukrainian trucks entering the EU, causing the grain to leak into border highways.
Last week, farmers, enraged by what they saw as an inflow of cheap grain from Ukraine, staged protests at three border crossings, sparking the impasse. This most recent event, which comes after a previous two-month blockade by Polish truckers, worsens the already tense ties between Poland and Ukraine.
The "deliberate destruction" of Ukrainian grain by Polish demonstrators was immediately denounced by the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture, which further urged authorities to apprehend and prosecute those involved as soon as possible. Poland retaliated by announcing an inquiry into possible property damage and violations in customs security.
The District Prosecutor's Office in Lublin spokesperson Agnieszka Kepka said that the spilled grain could not be used anymore. The fighting occurred while the agricultural industry in Ukraine struggled to recover from Russia's invasion, which destroyed important export routes and left large areas of farmland unusable because of the fighting.
According to Kyiv's agriculture ministry, "Ukrainian farmers have been toiling under constant threat, often at the risk of their lives, since the invasion." The demonstrations signify a problem for Prime Minister Donald Tusk's new administration in Poland, which has worked to improve ties with Kyiv that were damaged by the previous right-wing government.
Polish police stated that they had inspected the protest scene and said that they would transfer the material to the Chelm District Prosecutor's Office for additional review. Numerous Ukrainian authorities said that the Polish farmers were advancing Russian interests amid rising tensions; one official even compared the situation to "watering fields with blood." Leader of the now-halted Polish trucker protest Rafal Mekler defended the protests, and hauliers said they would be willing to reopen border blockades if their demands were not satisfied.
In reaction to the uproar, Tusk emphasized his commitment to the food security of Poland and Ukraine by promising to look for "solutions" despite larger farmer protests around Europe. "I will explore common ground with our French counterparts on food security," Tusk said, emphasizing the necessity of striking a balance between the interests of Poland, Europe, and Ukraine. While assuring everyone that Ukraine would always have his back, Tusk emphasized the need to protect Polish truck drivers and farmers from what he called "unfair competition."