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The Slovak Truckers’ Association, UNAS, announced its decision to block the main border crossing with Ukraine starting Friday, aligning with ongoing Polish protests against Ukrainian drivers.
UNAS released a statement on their Facebook page declaring solidarity with Polish truckers, who have been blockading several Ukrainian crossings since November 6. In a statement, UNAS said, “The purpose of the protest is to join truck carriers from Poland. We cannot leave them alone in the fight.”
This move is in response to grievances that Ukrainian truckers are offering lower service prices and conducting internal transports within the EU, negatively impacting Slovak and Polish trucking businesses.
The protest is set to begin at the Vysne Nemecke/Uzhhorod crossing at 3 PM on Friday. This particular crossing, the only one on the Slovakia-Ukraine border open to heavy trucks, will see a complete blockade, with exceptions for humanitarian aid, military support, and essential deliveries like fuel and chilled food.
The core issue fueling these protests is the perceived disadvantage since Ukrainian truckers obtained permit exemptions for crossing into the EU following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Polish truckers have demanded reinstatement of the permit system for Ukrainian drivers entering the EU and for EU truckers entering Ukraine, except for humanitarian and military supplies.
Ukraine, however, has expressed concerns that the protests are harming its wartime economy by obstructing exports and essential imports, such as motor vehicle gas (LPG). While Kyiv has also claimed that humanitarian aid is being blocked, protesters refute this. In response to the escalating situation, EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean condemned the blockades, stating, “Ukraine and the EU cannot be taken hostage” by these protests, and called the situation “unacceptable.”