Third Ukrainian truck driver dies waiting at Poland border

By Isaac M December 17, 2023

A Ukrainian lorry driver has died at the border with Poland, the third such incident in a month since Polish truckers started blocking entry to their country in protests triggered by the Russian war against Ukraine.

The driver fell ill at the Krakivets-Korczowa crossing, one of the four border points between Ukraine and Poland, and died while being rushed to the hospital, said Suspilne, a Ukrainian public broadcaster, on Saturday.

Pickup trucks and lorries bound for Ukraine have been stuck in a miles-long queue at the border with Poland for weeks. The Polish protesters have said their livelihoods are at stake after the European Union relaxed some transport rules and say Ukrainian truckers are undercutting their business.

At least two truckers died in the last month amid the blockade, which is also hampering the delivery of components needed to build drones for the Ukrainian military.

Ukrainian charities and companies supplying the war-torn country’s military warn that problems are growing as Polish truck drivers show no sign of ending a border blockade that has stretched past a month.

The blockade at all four border crossing points began on 6 November, creating lines that stretch for more than 30km (19 miles) and last up to three weeks in freezing temperatures.

They have gathered to demand that the European Union reinstate a system requiring Ukrainian companies to secure permits to operate in the EU bloc and also for the European truckers to enter Ukraine.

Officials in Kyiv have said the volume of their wartime traffic makes a truck permit system impracticable.

The protesters insist that they are not stopping military transports or humanitarian aid into Ukraine.

One of the crossing points – Jahodyn Dorohusk – was reopened to allow the movement of traffic this week but the respite could be short-lived as a court ruled that a Polish mayor could not ban truckers from holding a protest in his commune.

The protests on the border crossing will likely resume from Monday. Slovak truckers staged similar protests at border points this week, but ended their action on Friday.

Despite Poland and other bordering countries being some of Ukraine’s biggest supporters in the war with Russia, resentment has built from truckers and farmers who are losing business to lower-cost Ukrainian goods and services flowing into the world’s biggest trading bloc.

It also underscores the challenges of integrating Ukraine into the EU, if the move is approved.


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