Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called on the EU to impose full sanctions on Russian and Belarusian farm imports in response to ongoing protests across the bloc – particularly in Poland – against competition from Ukrainian imports.

As Warsaw is mulling a temporary ban on Ukrainian imports as a result of recent protests, Tusk’s appeal could be interpreted as a move to appease Kyiv over what the former called a “painful” decision.

Despite the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia and Belarus concerning the war in Ukraine, farm imports from the two nations continue to flow into the bloc, with Poland importing six million kilograms of grains from Russia via the EU in 2022.

Even though the number is minuscule compared to Ukrainian imports, the fact that Russian imports continued despite the war has caused outrage in different quarters.

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Tusk said the sanctions on Russian and Belarusian farm imports would make it possible to “more effectively protect the EU’s agricultural and food markets” and “fully unblock the possibilities of exporting Ukrainian products... to third countries.”

Tusk said he would also propose a Polish parliamentary resolution urging the European Commission to impose “full sanctions” on the imports.

“I would prefer that we, as the entire European Union, decide on sanctions against Russia and Belarus regarding food and agricultural products.

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“I am convinced that a joint EU decision will be incomparably more effective than individual decisions by the region’s member states,” Tusk told reporters on a visit to Lithuania.

To date, Latvia is the only EU member state to have banned food imports from Russia and Belarus, including via intermediary countries.

A recent Kyiv Post Op-Ed covered the protest developments in detail, where the protestors said Ukrainian farm imports had undercut local prices and led to excessive competition after the EU dropped tariffs on Ukrainian imports following Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

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Poland’s ties with Ukraine have become strained over the protests, which have led to border blockades with at least four incidents of Polish farmers spilling Ukrainian grain from trucks and freight trains.

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