Around 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain was destroyed at a Polish railway station amid large-scale protests in what a senior Ukrainian official said on Sunday was an act of “impunity and irresponsibility”.
Polish farmers protesting this month against what they say is unfair competition from Ukraine and EU environment regulations have blocked border crossings with Ukraine and motorways, and spilled Ukrainian produce from train wagons.
“These pictures show 160 tonnes of destroyed Ukrainian grain. The grain was in transit to the port of Gdansk and then to other countries,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov posted on X with photographs of mounds of grain spilled from train wagons. “The fourth case of vandalism at Polish railway stations. The fourth case of impunity and irresponsibility.”
Previous incidents of grain being spilled from trains took place on the border with Ukraine.
“We know that protests that take the form of spilling grain are not good,” Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski told a news conference.
However, he added that he thought that sometimes the reaction to such incidents from the Ukrainian side went too far.
Lidia Kowalska, a police spokesperson from the northern Polish city of Bydgoszcz, said the incident took place in the nearby village of Kotomierz and the product spilled was corn.
“The details and circumstances are being investigated,” she told Reuters. “At 0930 we received a report about grain that had spilled out, it turned out that it was from eight wagons.”
On Sunday Polish farmers blocked a major highway into Germany in the latest such protest against EU regulations and taxes, blocking the A2 motorway near Slubice, on the border with Germany in western Poland.
“The blockade began at 1pm (1200 GMT). Both sides of the A2 motorway have been stopped,” Ewa Murmylo, a spokeswoman for local police, told AFP.
Initially the farmers had been planning a 25-day blockade but reduced it following talks with local representatives, businesses and transporters.
They have decided “to unblock the road probably tomorrow”, Monday, said Dariusz Wrobel, one of the Polish farmer organisers.
“This will depend on things that we can’t predict,” he told AFP. “We need to start taking ourselves seriously.”
EU agriculture ministers are due to meet today in Brussels.
They are to discuss new European Commission proposals aiming to change regulations at the heart of the discontent, for example reducing the number of checks on produce. – Reuters/AFP
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