Poland – “I have decided to take measures that will help strengthen security on the border with the Kaliningrad oblast. We will start the construction of a temporary barrier to strengthen the security of the border”, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced on 2 November.
The Polish authorities have good reason to fear a repeat of the operation carried out from Belarus last year, when the Lukashenko regime brought tens of thousands of would-be illegal immigrants from the Middle East to Europe, setting up direct air connections and luring them with the possibility of easy crossing at the land border between Belarus and Lithuania or Poland to enter the Schengen area.
From the very beginning, it was clear to both Warsaw and Vilnius that this operation, described as an act of “hybrid war”, was commanded from Moscow. So when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered last September, during a governmental meeting dedicated to tourism, that the requirement for tourist visas be abolished for all countries not listed as unfriendly to Russia – and thus for most of the countries of Africa and the Middle East – without the need for reciprocity, this raised the alarm in Warsaw.
The suspicion that last year’s Belarusian operation could soon be extended to Kaliningrad became even stronger when the governor of that Russian exclave, Anton Alikhanov, then asked his country’s air transport authority, Rosaviatsia, to allow third-country aircraft to land in Kaliningrad on routes between airports that are not their home airport. In an interview for the newspaper Izvestia, the same governor later reported that 400 places had been prepared in Kaliningrad for refugees from Kherson, the city on the banks of the Dnieper occupied by Russian forces that is now the target of a counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces.
Although no refugees have yet arrived from Ukraine, Warsaw is concerned that its border with Kaliningrad could be flooded by “tourists” from Africa and the Middle East mixed with Ukrainian refugees. That Russia is seeking to provoke a new wave of Ukrainian refugees seems beyond doubt today, in view of the bombings that have been targeting civilian energy infrastructure for several weeks now as winter approaches.
It is, therefore, to avoid the mass arrival of economic immigrants from Africa and the Middle East in the midst of these Ukrainian war refugees that Poland has decided to build a fence on its 200-kilometre border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, similar to the one erected this year on the border with Belarus.
For the time being, the Polish army’s engineering units have started installing a temporary triple barbed wire fence 3 m deep and 2.5 m high, similar to the one initially erected at the border with Belarus, which will then be reinforced with systems of electronic surveillance.