Following in the steps of Poland and Hungary, Bulgaria is also preparing to ban the import of Ukrainian grain, Agriculture Minister Yavor Gechev announced on Sunday. Meanwhile, a European Commission spokesperson criticised Warsaw and Budapest for breaking the EU line describing their move as “unacceptable”.

“Bulgarian interests must also be preserved. Moreover, when two EU countries react in this way, if we do not react similarly, the accumulations (of Ukrainian grain) on Bulgarian territory may become even larger, so we are working (on the issue),” Gechev said.

Bulgaria, governed by a caretaker government appointed by President Rumen Radev, viewed by some as pro-Russian, already requested a reaction from the European Commission on importing Ukrainian grain in September. 

For allowing Ukrainian grain and food products to pass through its territory, Bulgaria has received €16 million in compensation. The country has asked for another 100 million leva (€51 million) in compensation even though Bulgarian grain producers receive hundreds of millions of euros in direct EU subsidies for the land they cultivate.

Earlier on Saturday, Poland and Hungary decided to ban grain and some food imports from Ukraine following intense pressure from their own agricultural producers.

Meanwhile, the European Commission reacted negatively on Saturday, saying the two countries breached the EU trade policy.

“We are aware of Poland and Hungary’s announcements regarding the ban on imports of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine,” a Commission spokesperson said in a statement.

“In this context, it is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable,” she added.

Ukraine had “always been sympathetic to the situation in the Polish agricultural sector and responded promptly to various challenges,” Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

According to Reuters : “Kyiv seeks to reopen food and grain transit through Poland as a ‘first step’ toward lifting an import ban at talks in Warsaw on Monday, as the countries suspended grain shipments from Ukraine to protect their local agricultural markets from a glut.”