Ukraine condemns dumping of grain transiting through Poland

Ukraine’s government has called on Poland to find and punish those responsible for the sabotage of a train carrying Ukrainian grain, which resulted in 160 tonnes of corn being dumped on the tracks.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries over an ongoing strike by Polish farmers, some of whom have been blocking the border in protest against Ukrainian agricultural imports.

It is the fourth time during those protests that Ukrainian produce being transported through Poland has been dumped, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who shared images on Sunday of the aftermath of the latest incident.

These pictures show 160 tons of destroyed Ukrainian grain. The grain was in transit to the port of Gdansk and then to other countries.

The fourth case of vandalism at Polish railway stations. The fourth case of impunity and irresponsibility.

How long will the government and…

— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) February 25, 2024

Kubrakov noted that the grain was heading for the Polish port of Gdańsk, from where it would be exported to other countries. It was dumped from the train by unknown perpetrators in the village of Kotomierz near the city of Bydgoszcz in north-central Poland.

“How long will the government and the Polish police allow this vandalism to continue?” asked Kubrakov. “We are strictly following the law. And you?”

In a further social media post today, the minister said that the Ukrainian authorities are in contact with Polish police, who have launched an investigation. He also noted that the Ukrainian embassy has issued a diplomatic note “demanding to find and punish the guilty”.

Kubrakov added that such incidents “have similarities with the russian [sic] hybrid war” and called for “those who have damaged Ukrainian grain [to] be found, neutralized, and punished”.

Fourteen members of a Russian spy network in Poland were given prison sentences today.

The group – most of whom are Ukrainians – was tasked with carrying out surveillance and sabotage, including plans to derail a train carrying military aid for Ukraine

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 19, 2023

On Sunday evening, the spokeswoman for police headquarters in Bydgoszcz, Lidia Kowalska, confirmed to the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that eight wagons of corn had been dumped. She said that the grain was now being reloaded onto other wagons.

Criminal proceedings regarding destruction of property have been initiated, notes PAP. The deputy mayor of the local authority in which the incident took place told broadcaster Polskie Radio that the incident was unlikely to have been an accident.

Drone footage of the spilled grain was shared on social media by a Polish trade union, WZZ “Sirpień 80”, which also posted images of the dumped grain alongside a laughing-face emoticon and the ironic comment: “Ah, those closing mechanisms.”

Masowe awarie mechanizmów drzwiowych 🧐

— coolfonpl 🇵🇱 (@coolfonpl) February 25, 2024

Police in Poland are also investigating a separate incident that took place last week in which rapeseed from Ukraine was dumped from a train near the border.

Previously, on 12 February, Polish farmers protesting at the Medyka border crossing with Ukraine dumped Ukrainian grain onto the road from trucks that had just brought it over the border.

Last week, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that the government was adding border crossings to the country’s list of critical infrastructure in response to the farmers’ protests. That came shortly after the foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski, said that some protesters were “possibly influenced by Russian agents”.

On Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal warned that his country may take “retaliatory measures” if Poland does not resolve border blockades.

Speaking on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to calm tensions, repeating that Ukrainians “are grateful to the Polish society” for their support during the war. But he added that “if no steps are found [to resolve the issue at the border, we will protect our business”.

Zelensky: I would not like to see border between Ukrainian and Polish societies

— Ukrinform-DEU (@Ukrinform_deu) February 25, 2024

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Oleksandr Kubrakov/X

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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