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Ukraine’s fate hangs in the balance, Polish premier says as he moves to secure aid transit route

WARSAW, Poland — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that border crossings with Ukraine are being added to a list of critical infrastructure to ensure that all military and humanitarian aid can reach Ukraine without any delays.

Tusk spoke following protests by angry Polish farmers that have included border blockades and the spilling of Ukrainian grain from freight trains at a Polish border crossing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy said Wednesday that the blockade was hampering the transport of military supplies to Ukrainian forces on the front line.

“The fate of Ukraine is hanging in the balance and I don’t need to convince anyone that this means that our fate is also hanging in the balance,” said Tusk, whose country is located along NATO’s eastern flank and borders Ukraine.

Poland is one of the main staging posts for Western military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Poland has donated many of its own weapons but transports from other NATO countries often pass through the large central European nation.

Tusk disputed that any military equipment intended for Ukraine was being held up. However, he said that border crossings and sections of roads and railway tracks will now be added to a list of critical infrastructure to ensure “a 100% guarantee that military and humanitarian aid will reach the Ukrainian side without any delays.”

Polish farmers, like farmers across Europe, have been in revolt against Ukrainian food that has been entering the European Union market. They say the cheaper produce is driving down prices. They have also protested EU climate policies which they say will increase their costs and hurt their bottom line.

Following protests in Poland this week, Zelenskyy publicly appealed to Tusk for a meeting of the two governments at their joint border ahead of the second anniversary Saturday of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tusk, however, said Thursday the two governments should wait until a previously scheduled March 28 meeting in Warsaw, arguing that Poland’s solidarity for Ukraine is strong and there is no need for symbolic gestures.

But he also stressed that he was working to address the legitimate concerns of Polish farmers and to help Brussels and Kyiv understand their point of view.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it was concerned by anti-Ukrainian slogans and banners praising Russian President Vladimir Putin at recent farmers’ blockades.

One tractor at a protest this week in the southern region of Silesia carried a Soviet flag and a banner that said: “Putin, put things in order with Ukraine, Brussels, and our rulers.”

“Any such attack in public space or support for Putin’s narrative is high treason and I hope that both protesters and all services will draw the right conclusions from it,” Tusk said. “We will not tolerate it in any way.”

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