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Ukraine's diplomacy pushes to close the EU's eastern borders. Is rail freight traffic to be suspended?

Ukraine's diplomacy pushes to close the EU's eastern borders. Is rail freight traffic to be suspended?
photo: CARGOTOR press materials/Ukraine's diplomacy pushes to close the EU's eastern borders. Is rail freight traffic to be suspended?
05 / 04 / 2022

Ukraine's embassy in Warsaw is negotiating with the Polish government to completely close the border with Belarus. If the border is closed, truck traffic will be most affected, as well as rail freight traffic, including the much-publicized movement of goods from China along the Silk Road. "We have no official information about the planned closure of the Terespol-Brest rail border crossing," said a representative of CARGOTOR, the company that manages the Małaszewicze transshipment point, which is currently considered on the logistics map as a rail gateway for goods coming from Asia to the European Union.

"We are negotiating with the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure, with the Polish government to completely close the border between Poland and Belarus, even if the decision is not taken at the European Union level," Ukraine's ambassador to Poland, Andrii Deshchytsia, told Ukrinform news agency. At the same time, the Ukrainian ambassador admitted that Ukrainian diplomats are holding similar negotiations with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to close their borders with Belarus and Russia. ''I think that if such a decision is made, it will not be necessary to wait for the European Union's decision - we will completely block all supplies to Russia,'' the ambassador stressed.

 The Polish side is waiting for the European Union's reaction and is currently hesitant to make a unilateral decision. ''If we want to implement effective aid to Ukraine, we need to act together in the European Union forum,'' Polish government representatives explained. At the same time, Poland's Council of Ministers in late March approved a relevant bill aimed at imposing a complete embargo on the import of coal from Russia to the territory of the Republic of Poland and its transit through this territory, regardless of the European Union authorities decision. If this law comes into force, it will also have a major impact on rail freight transport. According to statistics, approximately 10 million tonnes of coal from Russia are imported into Poland every year, and almost half of the coal imported into the European Union is also of Russian origin.

Currently, the situation at Poland's main transshipment terminal, Małaszewicze, does not look too extraordinary. ''Trains are crossing the border in both directions as standard without restrictions. The number of trains handled is at a similar level as before the war,'' a CARGOTOR representative told RAILTARGET.

Ukrainian Deputy Infrastructure Minister Mustafa Nayyem reports that Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia will begin the process of complete transport isolation from Russia within the next 48-72 hours. Once the decision is made, the countries' borders with Russia and Belarus will be completely closed, which means that all transport traffic will become impossible.

 

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