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Ukrainian nationalists blocking Russian trucks at border with Belarus

February 28, 19:13 UTC+3 KIEV
Russian truck haulage across Ukraine was reopened on February 25. However, Svoboda said on the following day it resumed blockade of Russian trucks in four Ukrainian regions
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© EPA/Darek Delmanowicz, архив

KIEV, February 28. /TASS/. Ukraine’s nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom) said on Sunday its activists have started an action to block transit of Russian trucks across the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

"On February 28, 2016, Svoboda activists in the Zhitomir region started an action to block transit of Russian trucks across the Ukrainian territory from Belarus," the party’s press service said.

Three Russian trucks have been forced to drive back to Belarus in the Zhitomir region. Five trucks have been stopped in the Lvov region. Trucks with Russian plate numbers are being stopped in the Chernovtsy, Lvov, Transcarpathia and Volyn regions.

Russian truck haulage across Ukraine was reopened on February 25. However, Svoboda said on the following day it resumed blockade of Russian trucks in four Ukrainian regions, namely Cehrnovtsy, Volyn, Lvov and Transcarpathia.

Earlier on Friday, the head of the motor transport department at the Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister, Roman Khmil, told Ukrainian television that the government had agreed with radical activists to end blockade of Russian vehicles.

On February 11, Ukrainian radicals in the Transcarpathian Region announced an unlimited campaign to block the transit of Russian trucks. Later they were joined by radically-minded activists in nine regions: Volyn, Rovno, Lvov, Transcarpathia, Ivano-Frankovsk, Zhitomir, Vinnitsa, Sumy and Chernovtsy.

In response, on February 14, Russia halted transit of Ukrainian transport companies’ trucks through its territory. On February 15, the Ukrainian government officially announced suspension of transit traffic of trucks registered in Russia. From February 16, Russia, fully suspended transit of trucks registered in Ukraine through its territory.

Russia and Ukraine agreed to resume motor freight traffic between the two countries from February 25.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ministry of infrastructure said losses from the blockade of Russia trucks could be estimated at 115 billion hryvnias (more than 4.2 billion U.S. dollars). "Rough estimates: 15 billion hryvnias of transportation fees plus at least 100 billion hryvnias of proceeds from the sales of our goods abroad. I am afraid that the real figure might be much bigger," Roman Khmil, director of the ministry’s motor transport department, wrote on his Facebook account.

According to Khmil, blockade of Russian truck transit is an infrastructure catastrophe for Ukraine as a transit county depending on proceeds from international trade and transit flows. "It will entail suspension of our transit to Asian countries and bilateral shipments in Russia. Next will be the halt in railway transit. Further on, international companies will gradually cease driving across our territory because we are violating international contracts and infringing upon their interests. Still further , we will be expelled from the World Trade Organization and stripped off support from the European Union and the United States. As soon as we stop behaving in a civilized manner we are becoming a Somalia in the eyes of our partners, with all negative consequences," he wrote.

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