Slovak truckers interrupt Ukraine border blockade, mull next steps

  • World
  • Tuesday, 05 Dec 2023

(Reuters) - Slovak truckers interrupted a blockade of the country's sole freight border crossing with Ukraine on Monday night after four days, but remain on alert and will decide on further steps later on Tuesday, the chief of a hauliers' association said.

Slovak truckers have joined Polish peers in blocking some border crossings with Ukraine, demanding the reinstatement of a permit system that limited the number of cheaper Ukrainian peers able to operate in the EU.

They complain that the Ukrainian truckers offer lower prices for their services and also transport goods within the EU, rather than just between the bloc and Ukraine.

The chief of the Slovak UNAS truckers association Stanislav Skala told Reuters the Slovak blockade was interrupted due to concerns over safety and access by emergency services after some truckers waiting in a line stretching for dozens of kilometres threatened to block roads far away from the crossing, which would cut access to villages en route.

"So far we interrupted the (blockade).. In the column, some Ukrainian trucks started steering across the road," he said.

Slovak police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Slovak truckers had started a partial blockade of the Vysne Nemecke/Uzhhorod crossing on Friday, allowing only four trucks per hour to pass through to Ukraine, with exception of military and humanitarian aid and perishable goods. The Polish blockade of several crossings started on Nov. 6.

Skala said the interruption was meant to allow for a line of trucks stretching for many kilometres to clear. UNAS leaders would meet later on Tuesday to consult on further action.

Skala said UNAS was unhappy with lack of progress on the issue at an EU transport ministers meeting on Monday.

Poland on Monday demanded the return of permits for Ukrainian hauliers, which were removed after Russia's invasion last year.

Kyiv has said it will not compromise on the question.

European transport commissioner Adina Valean said on Nov. 29 that Ukraine and the EU cannot be "taken hostage" by the blockades.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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