Ukraine and Poland on Sunday agreed to work on a shared railway company to establish a joint border customs control and facilitate human movement and increase Ukraine’s export potential.
During a meeting in Kiev on Sunday between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Polish President Andrzej Duda, who spoke of increased cooperation between the two countries, Duda offered Warsaw support for the disputed neighbor.
“The Polish-Ukrainian border should not be one, it should not be divided,” Duda told lawmakers after becoming the first foreign leader to address privately in Ukraine’s parliament since Russia’s February 24 invasion.
Zelensky called the joint border customs control a “revolutionary” move.
“This will significantly speed up the border process,” Zelensky said in a video conference night after Dudar’s visit.
Most of the Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war have entered the European Union through border points with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Poland has granted more than 3 million Ukrainians the right to live and work and to demand social security.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the two neighbors were working to facilitate transportation of Ukrainian goods to the European Union.
“We are also working to create a joint venture railway company to increase the export potential of the Ukrainian economy,” Kurbakov said in a statement.
The war in Ukraine, one of the world’s major wheat and corn exporters, has pushed up global prices.
About 25 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine, unable to leave due to infrastructural challenges. Ukraine used to export most of its goods through seaports but since the Russian invasion it has been forced to export by train or through its port on the small Danube river.
Zelensky added that joint tariff control could make it easier for the country to join the EU.
“This is also the beginning of our integration into the EU’s common customs space,” he said.
The European Commission will issue a report in June on whether it will accept Ukraine’s application for EU membership, which could be a drawn-out process that is already causing controversy within the bloc (reporting by Maria Starkova in Lviv; by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Michael Edited by Perry)