Poland eyes fortifications on its border with Belarus

Poland eyes fortifications on its border with Belarus

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Defense officials in NATO member Poland presented plans on Monday for fortifying its eastern border with Moscow ally Belarus.

The government says that Poland, which supports Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s aggression, is being targeted by hostile actions from Russia and Belarus. They include cyberattacks, attempted arson and migrants being pushed illegally across the border, which officials describe as intended to destabilize the European Union, of which Poland is a member.

The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has planned a range of security measures including in cyberspace, as well as some $2.5 billion investment into eastern border security, known as Shield-East. He said last week that work on the shield has begun.

Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz and the armed forces chief of staff, Gen. Wiesław Kukuła, are presenting the details of the border protection enhancement, including modern blockades, fortifications and surveillance that seek to deter any potential aggressor.

The Defense Ministry says the system will be an element of regional defense infrastructure built jointly with the Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — that are also on NATO’s eastern flank.

Shield-East will “significantly strengthen the nation’s resilience to military threats from the east, it will limit the mobility of the adversary’s troops while offering a greater freedom of action and survival to our own troops and to civilians,” the ministry said.

Poland’s previous right-wing government built a $400 million wall on the border with Belarus to halt a massive inflow of migrants that began to be pushed from that direction in 2021. The current pro-EU government says it needs to be strengthened.

The three Baltic states were once part of the Soviet Union, while Poland was a satellite state of the USSR before the 1990s. Moscow still regards the area as within its sphere of interests.

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