Poland begins construction of barbed wire fence along Kaliningrad border with Russia due to security concerns

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Poland began construction of a barbed wire fence on its border with Russia‘s Kaliningrad, where Moscow has a significant military presence, officials said on Wednesday.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told reporters at a press conference that he had ordered the temporary barrier to be built immediately to ensure Poland’s security. The barrier will be 2.5 meters (8 feet) high and 3 meters (10 feet) deep along the 210 kilometer (130 mile) border.

There are currently no barriers along the border, but work began on Wednesday, with Polish soldiers specializing in demining carrying out initial preparation work.

It should be completed by the end of 2023, Błaszczak said.

Błaszczak cited security concerns as the reason for the border construction, which comes amid ongoing tensions with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

It also comes as Warsaw fears the Kremlin is planning to facilitate illegal border crossings by Asian and African immigrants in a bid to destabilize Europe, concerns sparked by a recent decision by Russia’s aviation authority to launch flights from the Middle East and North Africa to Kaliningrad.

The defense minister on Wednesday referred to the 2021 crisis in which thousands of illegal aliens from Africa and the Middle East attempted to cross the border from Belarus, a close Russian ally, into Poland. Many of these cross-border commuters died and Poland then erected a steel wall on the border with Belarus to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. This border was completed in June.

At the time, Polish leaders and other European Union leaders accused the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging immigrants from the Middle East to come to Minsk and to Europe.

Belarusian officials have denied the allegations.

A member of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service stands near the border with Belarus and Poland in the Volyn region of Ukraine, November 16, 2021. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

The border between Poland and Russia “stable and calm”

Rights groups later accused Poland of double standards after the nation hosted an influx of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion while simultaneously moving to keep out migrants from the Middle East and from North Africa to enter through the Belarusian border.

“If you transport a refugee to the Ukrainian border, you are a hero. If you make it to the Belarusian border, you are a smuggler and could end up in jail for eight years,” said Natalia Gebert, founder and CEO of Dom Otwarty, or Open House, a Polish nongovernmental organization that helps refugees. , according to a June report. report by The Associated Press.

A Border Guard Agency spokesman, Konrad Szwed, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the barrier would consist of an electric fence and currently there are regular border guard patrols.

Kaliningrad is a semi-enclave – a part of a country which is geographically separated from the main part by surrounding foreign territory – which lies on the Baltic Sea and is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, and separated from the Belarus via a border corridor.

Although there is no barrier along the border, a Polish border guard spokesman told Reuters there were no illegal entries from Kaliningrad into Poland in October.

“The Polish-Russian border is stable and calm. There have been no illegal passage from the border,” Polish border spokeswoman Anna Michalska said. “We are not only here in times of peace. We are prepared for various crisis situations and after what happened on the Polish-Belarusian border, we are even more prepared for everything, for all the darkest scenarios,” she added.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts

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Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on U.S., global, and business news.

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