RATNE, Ukraine – In the town of Ratne, ten kilometers from the border of Ukraine and Belarus, eight Serbian refrigerated trucks that transport fruit to Russia have been stopped. Serbian drivers claim that around 300 Ukrainian women blocked their way, because they believe that “Serbs are Russian allies”.
How long will the “captivity” last, drivers say they do not know, but they complain that they are running out of food and water, as well as the fuel for refrigerators, so they fear that the goods will deteriorate. The value of the fruit in each trucks is about EUR 20,000.
“For two days our way is blocked by mostly women, with explanation that we can not go further only because we are Serbs. They told us that they are punishing us because we are old Russian allies, and that their husbands, sons and fathers, have been mobilized for 45 days. Some of them are killed. We are unable to do anything. We have notified our families and companies we work for, as well as the Embassy of Serbia in Ukraine,” Ivan Roskovic from Smederevo, one of the drivers, told for “Novosti”.
Instead of support, as he said, the Serbian Embassy criticized them for using road through Ukraine “when they know that there is a state of war.”
Roskovic said that two young men visited them yesterday, asking for 200 euros to show them alternative route. “However, in that direction there are only meadows and sands, and there is no road. We can not take chances,” said Roskovic.
“We passed this way earlier, and drivers who passed in previous days did not have any problems. We are the first stopped by the “cordon” of Ukrainian women, and there are about 15 trucks behind us from Macedonia and as much from Turkey. Ukrainian police, although few in number compared to women, tried to help us. They asked Ukrainian women to let us pass, but women said no,” said Roskovic.
Late yesterday afternoon army came to help. However, the road is still blocked.
“We were relieved when the army came and we hope they will soon open the road for us. They told us that the representatives of the local authorities will travel to Kiev, so we hope there will be a solution soon,” said Roskovic.
Of eight Serbian “captured” trucks, according to Roskovic, four are going to Russia, and four were returning to Serbia. They are from different companies in Sajkasi, Smederevo, Lazarevac and Lajkovac, and they transport nectarines, peaches and blackberries.