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  HOME PAGE 17/04/2024 19:04 
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Polish Premier Condemns 'Pro-Russian Farmers' In Protests On Ukraine Border

22.02.2024 17:57

Donald Tusk outraged by banner with slogan 'Putin, put things in order with Ukraine, Brussels, and our rulers,' saying government cannot tolerate those who 'shamelessly' support Putin.

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Thursday condemned some Polish farmers for carrying a pro-Russia banner during their ongoing protests against the European Union's agricultural policy, the Green Deal, and duty-free imports of agri-food goods from Ukraine.

"There is one thing I will never agree to: we cannot allow those who openly and 'shamelessly' support Putin, serve Russian propaganda and discredit the Polish state, us Poles and the protesters to be active on the Polish-Ukrainian border, taking advantage of farmers' protests," Tusk said at a press conference in the capital Warsaw.

Farmers launched a 30-day strike on Feb. 9, disrupting goods customs clearance, with one crossing now reportedly taking more than two weeks.

Polish farmers intensified their protest by blocking rail transport in the village of Medyka on the Ukrainian border and pouring grain from incoming Ukrainian wagons onto rail tracks on Wednesday.

The protests, which intensified this week with over 200 road and rail blockades, featured a banner on Wednesday with the slogan "Putin, put things in order with Ukraine, Brussels, and our rulers."

Slawomir Izdebski, president of one of the farmers' unions, told the Polish Onet news website on Thursday: "I'm not sure if this was a provocation or a conscious decision by one of the farmers. Nothing like that should happen."

Earlier on Thursday, Poland's Foreign Ministry claimed that some elements in the protests were "possibly (have been) influenced by Russian agents."

"In our assessment, this is an attempt to take over the agricultural protest movement by extreme and irresponsible groups, possibly influenced by Russian agents," the ministry added.

Tusk rejects Zelenskyy's talks offer

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a meeting with Tusk within four days to resolve issues concerning his country's grain exports.

"I have directed our government to arrive at the border between our countries in the near future, by February 24 … I urge you, Donald, Mr. Prime Minister, to come to the border as well," Zelenskyy said in a statement on X.

Tusk during Thursday's press conference responded by rejecting the meeting offer, saying the Polish and Ukrainian governments will not meet at the border.

"We don't need symbolism in our relationships," he remarked.

"I will not stop working to protect the interests of Polish farmers. We are in constant contact with Ukraine and the European Commission," Tusk said.

The premier said the Polish and Ukrainian governments will meet in Warsaw on March 28. "I want to assure you that talks with Ukraine are ongoing. These relations are good, although there is a difference in interests," he added.

Eliza Dzwonkiewicz, the consul general of the Republic of Poland in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, has also criticized the farmers' protests in a social media post, stating "A true Pole would never stab his neighbors fighting for freedom in the back. Disgrace and shame." -



 
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