May 13 – May 19, 2024
Belarus-West relations

“Iron Curtain” Descending: Poland Announces “Shield of the East” Plan

The situation got worse
“Iron Curtain” Descending: Poland Announces “Shield of the East” Plan

Warsaw expects an escalation in tensions with Belarus, including an increase in both hybrid and military threats from the Lukashenka regime. In this context, Poland is actively verifying its border amid increasing migration pressure. The continuation of this trend and new provocations threaten a complete halt of communications between Minsk and Warsaw.

At a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Monte Cassino in Krakow, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that Poland plans to spend about USD 2.5 billion on fortifying its borders with Belarus and Russia. Warsaw is starting a massive project to build a secure border, which includes a system of fortifications and a series of environmental solutions that will make the border impassable for potential enemies. The project has been code-named “Tarcza Wschód” (“Shield of the East”).

This “shield” is intended to protect Poland from attacks from the east, but primarily it is meant to deter the adversary. Therefore, in addition to the border wall built in response to the migration crisis provoked by Minsk, fortifications and fortification structures will be erected along the 400 km border with Belarus and Russia.

The barrier itself at the border of the countries will be modernized. Additional fortifications designed to make the fence an insurmountable obstacle have been developed by the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice and engineers from the Ministry of Defense. According to Polish Deputy Minister of Defense, about 6,000 military personnel, police officers, and border guards currently guard the border with Belarus.

Warsaw has announced its plans amid increasing attempts by illegal migrants to break through from Belarus into Poland. Specifically, on May 10, a group of more than 140 illegal immigrants tried to ford the Przewłoka River from the Belarusian side. The illegal immigrants were very aggressive: throwing tree branches and stones at border and military patrols. That day, Polish border guards recorded 371 attempts to illegally cross the border.

On May 9, an association of former employees of Belarusian security forces reported: Lukashenka’s security services are planning a massive breakthrough of migrants (up to 700-800 people) at the Belarusian-Polish border section in the near future, currently accumulating them secretly at Belarusian outposts in the Polish direction. Migrants were transported from Minsk by OMON officers in civilian cars at night. The migrants were divided into groups of 25-30 people. Among them are women—most of them Muslims with relatives in Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels.

Thus, Poland continues to fortify its border with Belarus. If migration pressure and new provocations continue, it is not excluded that Warsaw and the Baltic capitals may go for a complete closure of the border and cut off passenger traffic. Then the “iron curtain” between Belarus and Europe would finally descend.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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