The protests staged by Polish farmers against competition from Ukrainian agricultural imports have escalated across the nation, blocking major highways and all border checkpoints – including rail transports – with Ukraine, attracting fresh participants rallying under other banners.

Among them are local hunters from the Hunters in Action group, who rallied against restrictions on hunting activities in what it called a “destruction of Polish agriculture by delegalizing hunting.”

Adrian Wawrzyniak, a spokesperson for the Solidarity farmers’ union, said all passenger traffic would now be blocked alongside truck traffic, and only military aid would be let through; Ukrainian truckers have blocked the entry of Polish goods on the Ukrainian side in response.

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Polish sources have created a live map where dozens of tractor icons – representing the farmers – could be seen scattered across the nation, joined by boar icons that represented the hunters.

Stages with audio equipment could be seen erected by Polish farmers on the highway, with some publicly denouncing support for Ukraine.

As a result of the escalation, Radio Free Europe also reported an incident where Ukrainian grains were spilled on railway tracks at the Medyka-Sheghini checkpoint, echoing that of an earlier incident where grains were spilled by protestors on a highway to the anger of many Ukrainians.

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The escalation is the culmination of a series of protests that started in November 2023 against Ukrainian competitions.

Polish truckers and farmers have introduced blockades on Ukrainian truck traffic intermittently in recent months, demanding the return of the permit system and limiting the influx of Ukrainian agricultural products respectively to curb what they called “excessive competition.”

However, the latest escalation has led to a full blockade of all traffic, including passenger traffic and rail connections.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion, the EU has lessened restrictions on Ukrainian exports through the bloc to help Kyiv sustain its economy, and protestors have called on the Polish government and the EU to reintroduce said restrictions but to no avail.

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Polish and Ukrainian officials have held multiple meetings in the hope of resolving the issue, but the escalation of the protests has shown that talks have largely failed.

Ukraine has condemned the protests and said there are no justifications for the escalation.

Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesperson of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Facebook, said: “Land borders remain important in the context of Russian aggression. The actions of Polish protesters and individual radical Polish politicians undermine the Ukrainian economy and resistance to repelling Russian aggression.

“The border of Poland and Ukraine is also the border of the EU. It should not be hostage to any political interests,” said Nikolenko.

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