Slovakia’s border crossing with Ukraine was blocked on Tuesday by a group of Ukrainian truckers, according to police and media reports. However, the Slovakian truckers’ union distanced itself from the blockade, claiming it was the work of only one truck. Slovak truckers are supporting their Polish counterparts who are trying to limit the number of Ukrainian trucks entering the EU. Last week, they staged a symbolic brief blockade of the main border crossing to show their support, but said they would wait for negotiations before taking further steps.
Truckers from Ukraine have been exempted from permits to cross the border since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Polish and Slovak carriers warn that this is harming their business. Miloslav Tokar of the Slovak border police stated that the truckers blocked the border crossing at noon and were only letting a limited number of Ukrainian trucks cross. The Slovak News Agency TASR reported that a truck blocked the Vysna Nemecka crossing on Tuesday, citing the Slovak transport union UNAS. Union president Stanislav Skala told Reuters by phone that the union would wait for talks by EU, Polish, and Ukrainian officials before officially joining any blockades of Polish colleague’s trucks.
Ukrainian customs announced on Telegram that “unknown persons blocked cargo traffic without any warning”, but also added that Ukraine had not received any official information from the Slovak side. She said that the Slovak side would start releasing trucks at 8 p.m., five an hour after blockade began. It is unclear why this particular border crossing was targeted or what led to its closure, but it has caused significant disruptions for both countries involved in this conflict with Russia and its allies.
It is important to note that while this incident may seem like an act of protest against Russian aggression towards Ukraine, it has caused significant economic hardships for both Poland and Slovakia as well as for Ukrainian truck drivers who rely on these routes for income.
Polish authorities have called on Brussels to take immediate action against Russia for its actions in Ukraine and imposed new sanctions on Russian companies operating in Poland.
The situation at Europe’s eastern borders is becoming increasingly tense as Russia continues its aggression towards Ukraine and tries to expand its influence in Eastern Europe.