Poland considering barrier at Kaliningrad border, senior official says

WARSAW – Poland may have to build a barrier on its border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to stop a wave of African and Asian migrants who could start trying to cross in the coming weeks, a senior Polish official said on Tuesday.

Poland accuses Russia and its ally Belarus of using migrants in a ‘hybrid warfare’ campaign to destabilize Europe, and with tension heightened over the war in Ukraine, Poland fears a repeat of a crisis that has seen thousands of African and Middle Eastern Migrants from the East attempt to cross the border into Belarus in 2021.

At that time, Minsk denied creating the situation by airlifting people seeking to enter the European Union, instead blaming Warsaw and Brussels for a humanitarian crisis that resulted in the deaths of several migrants in the forests along the border.

Krzysztof Sobolewski, general secretary of the ruling Law and Justice party, told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1 that Poland was considering building a barrier, similar to the one it built on the Belarusian border, on the border with Kaliningrad in Russia. .

“We will have to reinforce our forces on this section of the border and also consider (…) building border fortifications similar to the ones we currently have on the Polish-Belarusian section,” he said.

Russian media reported that Kaliningrad had opened its skies to flights from the Middle East and Asia in a bid to attract more airlines and tourists.

“After what we had to deal with, and still have to deal with, at the Polish-Belarusian border, and given the opening of the skies over the Kaliningrad region for planes from Turkey, from Syria and Belarus, it could be in the coming weeks,” he added. Sobolewski later told Reuters, referring to the increase in migrant arrivals.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a briefing that Russia would not interfere in such a decision.

“History proves the stupidity of decisions to build walls every time, because over the years or decades all walls come down,” he said.

Sobolewski said there were signs of larger groups of migrants appearing at the Belarusian border.

Poland has built a 5.5-meter (18-foot) high steel barrier, equipped with motion sensors and cameras, stretching about 187 km (116 miles) to the Belarusian border.

Poland previously said the border guard had received funding to build an “electronic fence” of sensors and cameras at the Kaliningrad border.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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