Poland-Belarus border friction intensifies

Poland and Belarus have begun a new phase of tensions after Belarus increased charges on trucks carrying Polish onions, nuts and sugar through its territory. The latest escalation is linked to Poland’s recent plea for fewer restrictions on food imports from Ukraine. This followed Brussels’ approval of the first tranche of aid for Ukraine in the wake of its 2014 Russia-backed revolution.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said that truck drivers had reported that Belarus had started charging them at customs for returning with prohibited items back to Poland. It described the measures as “unfair” and said the Ukrainian government had launched a campaign to raise awareness on the issue. The transport ministry said Belarus had failed to inform it of any extra duty that was to be paid. Belarus has tightened border controls in recent years as its economy weakens under the weight of a recession. Under a customs agreement signed between the two countries in 1995, Poland pays Belarus a fee for the routes it uses to import commodities. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend a summit in Minsk on Wednesday.

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