Ukrainians protesting against mobilization block trucks
A number of Serbian trucks and drivers are blocked on the Ukraine-Belarus border by a group of Ukrainian women, the Belgrade daily Večernje Novosti writes.Source: Večernje novosti
The women are protesting against the mobilization of men ordered by the authorities in Kiev, and reportedly particularly target Serbian trucks because of friendly ties between Serbia and Russia.
Eight Serbian trucks carrying fruit and vegetables to Russia have been held near the town of Ratne for two days. The drivers say the Ukrainian women referred to them as "Russian allies" and would not let them pass.
The drivers added that they are running out of water, food, and fuel for the refrigerators, and fear they may lose their cargo - worth some EUR 20,000 per truck.
Serbian Ambassador in Ukraine Rade Bulatović told the newspaper that the women protesting against the mobilization "are not blocking only Serbs," and added that the embassy received calls from the drivers held at the border, but that "realistically, this problem can only be solved by local Ukrainian authorities."
"It is not the embassy's job to deal with this," said the ambassador, and added: "This is a protest of women opposed to recruitment of men for war. They have been blocking the road toward Hungary every other day. This has nothing to do with our country."
But one of the Serbian drivers, Ivan Rošković, told the daily that the protesters, mostly women, were blocking the road "with the explanation that we cannot drive on simply because we are Serbs."
"They said they were punishing us for being Russian allies, and that their husbands, sons and fathers have been mobilized for 45 days now because of Russians. Some also died. We are helpless to do anything. We informed our families and the companies we work for, and also the embassy of Serbia in Ukraine."
But instead of providing assistance, the embassy criticized them for taking that route "when everyone knows there's a war," said Rošković. He also revealed that the drivers were approached by two young men who asked for EUR 200 in exchange of guiding them to an "alternative road," but the Serbians refused, realizing there was "nothing except meadows and sand in that direction."
Rošković added that they never previously encountered any problems on that road, and that the Serbian trucks were the first to be stopped now, while there were some 15 trucks from Macedonia and Turkey also held up behind them.
"True, there is Ukrainian police here, but they are outnumbered by the women. They tried to help us, asked them to let us pass, but they refused," said the driver.
The newspaper noted in its report that members of the Ukrainian army "joined the police" in Ratno late on Wednesday, but that at the time of the writing, the road remained blocked.