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Poland closes border to freight vehicles from Russia, Belarus

30.05.2023 08:00
Poland is closing its eastern border to freight vehicles registered in Belarus and Russia from June 1 until further notice, the interior ministry has said.
  • Poland imposes sanctions on Belarus over jailing of journalist
Photo:Rakoon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The decision, signed by Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński, was officially announced in Poland’s Journal of Laws on Monday, state news agency PAP reported.

Under a government regulation, from midnight on Thursday, all freight traffic through the border with Belarus for trucks, tractor trailers and trailers registered in Belarus and Russia will be suspended “until further notice.”

Earlier on Monday, Poland’s interior ministry said it was sanctioning 365 Belarusian citizens and freezing the financial assets of 20 businesses and 16 individuals with links to Russia, the PAP news agency reported. 

The move came in response to "the upholding of the draconian verdict against Andrzej Poczobut" and "the repression of political opponents" by the Belarusian authorities, the interior ministry said.

On Friday, the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld the sentencing of Andrzej Poczobut, a Polish-Belarusian journalist and activist, to eight years in “a maximum security penal colony” in what was widely seen as a politically motivated case, news outlets reported.

Border traffic restrictions

In February, a day after a Belarusian court issued the original eight-year sentence against Poczobut, Poland moved to close the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Bobrowniki, one of the main crossing points between the two countries, “in the interest of national security," the PAP news agency reported.

Poland then introduced further restrictions on freight traffic through the border with Belarus, according to news outlets.

Poland’s interior ministry said at the time that “if Andrzej Poczobut is released, the crossings will be reopened."

On February 17, the Belarusian authorities said Polish trucks would be able to enter and leave Belarus “through Polish-Belarusian crossings only,” meaning they would not be able to use Belarus’ crossings with Lithuania and Latvia, according to officials.

At the moment, Polish trucks are only allowed to enter Belarus through the Kukuryki-Kozlovichi border crossing, the only currently functioning road border crossing for freight vehicles between Poland and Belarus, the PAP news agency reported.

On February 20, Poland’s Kamiński announced that effective from the next day, Poland would limit freight traffic from Belarus through the Kukuryki-Kozlovichi border crossing as a retaliatory move. 

Under the new rules, freight traffic through Kukuryki-Kozlovichi is restricted until further notice to vehicles registered in Poland, other European Union countries and the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which brings together Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, according to officials.

Until now trailers registered in other countries, including Belarus, but pulled by vehicles registered in Poland, were allowed to pass through Kukuryki-Kozlovichi, according to PAP.

The new regulation, published on Monday, bans such traffic, officials said.   

Poland has been an important refuge for opponents of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and Warsaw has become one of Kyiv's most steadfast supporters since Belarus' ally Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, the Reuters news agency reported.

It noted that Poland accuses Belarus of artificially creating a migrant crisis on the border by flying in people from the Middle East and Africa and attempting to push them across the frontier.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Tuesday is day 461 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, businessinsider.com.pl