Ukraine files lawsuit against EU neighbors over ban on grain imports
Ukraine is prosecuting several European Union member states on its borders over their imposition of a ban on tax-free Ukrainian grain.
Ukraine has taken legal action against three of its European Union neighbors, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, by filing lawsuits at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over their bans on Ukrainian grain imports.
The Central European countries defied a recent decision by the European Commission to lift the import ban, sparking a diplomatic dispute with Ukraine, particularly Poland, which has been a staunch ally of Kiev's against Russia.
Poland warned that in case the bloc refuses to extend the ban, it would implement it unilaterally.
Ukrainian Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko stressed the necessity of demonstrating that individual member states should not have the authority to unilaterally prohibit the import of Ukrainian goods.
"It is crucially important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban imports of Ukrainian goods. That is why we are filing lawsuits against them," Svyrydenko said, hoping that the countries who imposed the ban would reconsider their restrictions on Ukrainian grain, which would allow both sides to avoid prolonged legal battles.
Kiev also underlined that Ukrainian exporters have been suffering significant losses due to the bans put in place by the EU states.
Ukraine's search for new ways to export grain comes after Russia did not renew its participation in the Black Sea grain deal, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, and would allow for the delivery of grain to foreign states without any issues.
No concessions on either side
Earlier in September, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Ukraine will not make any concessions to Russia on the grain initiative, even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he considers Moscow's expectations on the initiative to be "fair."
The shift in trade routes and the EU emerging as a vital transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain caused Ukraine to hike its export of grain. Despite the European Commission's decision to end restrictions on Ukrainian grain, the aforementioned three states extended the ban.
The European Commission announced on Friday that "existing measures will expire today" when they run out at midnight.
"The market distortions in the five Member States bordering Ukraine have disappeared," according to the EU's executive arm.
The situation has become particularly sensitive in Poland, where elections are scheduled to take place next month. The current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party enjoys substantial support in farming regions, making the grain import issue a focal point of political discourse.
The commission said the decision was made after Kiev committed to implementing safeguards, including an export license system within 30 days in order to "avoid grain surges."
Meanwhile, it stated that Ukraine will implement steps to regulate wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed exports in order to prevent disrupting markets in its EU neighbors.
In late August, Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus said Ukraine's EU neighboring countries are collectively calling for the extension of the ban on Ukrainian grain imports until the end of the year.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia is prepared to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal on the same day that its conditions for exporting its grain and fertilizers to global markets are met.
This development comes after Russia withdrew from the agreement in July, just a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. The primary grievances cited were obstacles faced by Russian food and fertilizer exports and the inadequate distribution of Ukrainian grain to countries in need.