Poland close to being able to end Ukraine border blockade, says PM

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland’s government is getting close to ending a blockade by truckers of several border crossings with Ukraine, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Polish drivers have been blocking several crossings with Ukraine since Nov. 6, demanding the European Union reinstate a system whereby Ukrainian companies need permits to operate in the bloc and the same for European truckers to enter Ukraine.

Farmers suspended a protest at one border crossing on Sunday, but truckers have continued to block three others.

“We are close to the belief that our actions can bring results, both the talks in Kyiv and Brussels,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference.

“I do not think that we will achieve the maximum that the truckers want, but it seems that what can be achieved will allow us to relieve emotions and relieve blockades on the border.”

The permit system for Ukrainian drivers was lifted after the EU and Kyiv signed an agreement on June 29, 2022, four months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Tusk said that the current regulations concerning permits would be in force until June and that it was unlikely that they could be changed before then. However, he said other solutions could be found at the “operational level”.

He said that he would discuss the issue with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during an upcoming visit to Kyiv.

“I will do everything possible to make the life and fate of Polish truckers easier,” he said.

Poland’s deputy infrastructure minister said on Friday after a meeting in Kyiv that he hoped truckers’ protests on the border with Ukraine could be resolved before the end of the year.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)