Poland presents plan to fortify border to Russia, Belarus

NATO member Poland on Monday elaborated on a plan to reinforce anti-drone surveillance and construct fortifications along some 700 kilometers (430 miles) of its border with Russian exclave Kaliningrad, and Russian ally Belarus.

The system, called Shield-East, is to be completed in 2028 and aims to protect Poland from hostile actions across the border, which up to now have included pushing migrants illegally into the country, an EU member.

The presentation of the plan comes as many countries from the former “Eastern Bloc” increasingly fear Russian aggression in view of Moscow’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

What has Poland said about the plan?

The Shield-East program, which includes planned fortifications, hubs and telecommunication systems in coordination with other eastern NATO allies — Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — is projected to cost 10 billion zloty (€2.35 billion, $2.55 billion). Poland hopes that EU funds will cover part of the costs because the system will also strengthen the eastern border of the 27-member bloc.

Russian cruise missile breaches Polish airspace

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“The goal of the shield is to protect the territory of Poland, hamper the mobility of the adversary’s troops while making such mobility easier for our own troops and to protect civilians,” Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said at a news conference.

“[The shield] makes up one complex system of defensive and deterrent actions. It connects access systems, but we will also purchase and implement modern anti-drone and reconnaissance systems,” he said.

The Shield-East is said to be a separate project from the wall on the border to Belarus constructed by Poland’s previous nationalist government to stop a massive inflow of migrants that it said was orchestrated by Minsk to destabilize the EU.

The current government under Prime Minister Donald Tusk says that wall will be strengthened, however.

Warsaw clamps down on Russian diplomats involved in hybrid warfare

On Monday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski also announced that Warsaw would begin restricting the movement of Russian diplomats in the country in an effort to thwart Russian “hybrid war” tactics.

“I just announced a Polish decision in connection to Russia’s participation in hybrid war against the European Union, including Poland: a restriction of movement for Russian diplomats in our country.”

Sikorsky, who made the announcement at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, said the restriction would not apply to ambassadors but rather others working at consulates and the Russian Embassy. Those individuals affected will only be allowed to move within the regions where they are stationed.

It is largely believed that Russians working in consulates abroad have been involved in cyberattacks and intelligence services activities.

Moreover, the Tusk government announced that it had arrested 12 individuals suspected of attempted sabotage last week. 

Sikorsky said he “hopes Russia understands this very serious warning.”

js,tj/wmr  (AP, Reuters)