The decision of the Polish authorities to dig a navigable transport canal across the Baltic Spit has nothing to do with economic reasons: Warsaw needs a new canal solely in order to be able to quickly transfer its tanks across the spit. This was stated in an interview with the Daily Storm by the governor of the Kaliningrad region. Anton Alikhanov…
“That the tank regiments, which are located next to Elblag, have a separate, independent, probably, opportunity to pass through this channel. That’s it, you don’t need it for anything else! ” – the head of the region considers. According to him, everyone understands this, including the chairman of the ruling party in Poland “Law and Justice” Jaroslaw Kaczynski…
Alikhanov noted that in fact, neither Polish ships nor ships of other countries have ever had any problems with the passage to the port of Elblag, despite the fact that they must pass through Russian territorial waters to get there.
“Neither Moscow, nor the regional authorities have ever used any geography and calmly let all the ships that wanted to pass through the strait pass through,” he stressed.
Alikhanov also noted that the construction of this channel is being carried out in violation of international law and may lead to an environmental disaster in the region.
Recall that the Polish authorities made the decision to build a canal across the Baltic Spit back in 2016, but Brussels forbade Warsaw to work without the approval of the European Commission. However, construction began in 2019. The first stage of work was completed in June 2020. it is planned to complete construction in full in 2022.
– The Poles are really digging a canal through the Baltic Spit, the implementation of this project is quite realistic, – confirms Mikhail Alexandrov, leading expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies, MGIMO… – Warsaw proceeds from the assumption that this will provide Poland with an independent passage to the port of Elblag. Now, for such a passage, Polish and foreign ships need to enter Russian inland waters near Baltiysk. And according to international maritime law, Russia at any time can block the entry of foreign ships into its internal waters. In assessing the situation, the Poles are guided not by Russia’s intentions, but by capabilities. And Russia really does have the ability to block the passage of Polish ships in this area.
“SP”: – Alikhanov stressed that in fact, neither Polish ships nor ships of other countries have ever had any problems with the passage to the port of Elblag, despite the fact that they must pass through Russian territorial waters to get there. Is it so? Why do the Poles say the opposite?
– The construction of the canal fits well into the current policy of Poland, which wants to be completely sovereign from both the EU and even more so from Russia. Given the unfriendly relations with Russia, which Poland itself has created, Warsaw fears that Moscow may impose some restrictions or even ban the passage of Polish ships and, above all, warships or ships carrying military cargo. So in the context of Poland’s current course, the decision to “dig a canal” is quite logical. This is both a matter of politics, that is, sovereignty, and a military one – the possibility of unhindered delivery of military supplies. As for the economy, it would be cheaper to walk through Russian waters.
“SP”: – Alikhanov claims that the construction of this canal is in violation of international law and can lead to an environmental disaster in the region …
– I do not think that the construction of the canal violates international law. Poland is building it on its territory and is in its own right. Violations of international law can only arise in the event of large-scale environmental consequences that may affect other countries. But the occurrence of such consequences must be proven.
Apparently, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have an evidentiary base in this matter (perhaps, great environmental damage is not expected). Therefore, our diplomats refrain from demarches. On the other hand, the West would not have missed the opportunity to unleash a wave of criticism on us in any similar case with propaganda purposes, even if there are not sufficient grounds for this. Unfortunately, our Foreign Ministry lacks aggressiveness in such work.
“SP”: – How can and should we respond militarily? Or is the Kaliningrad region already well protected?
– In military terms, this channel will give little to Poland. Of course, in peacetime, she need not fear that Russia will close the passage for Polish goods. But, on the other hand, if necessary, Poland could deliver such goods by land from other ports. Elblag is not an enclave cut off from other parts of Poland, like Kaliningrad from Russia.
In wartime, the Russian Baltic Fleet will simply block the Polish channel. Even if we assume that during the conflict with NATO our ships in this area of hostilities will be sunk, then the passage through the channel may be blocked by ground artillery fire. After all, it is only 48 km from Baltiysk to the canal, and even less from some other districts of the Kaliningrad region. So if the Polish leadership flatters itself with hopes that in case of war it will be able to ensure the transfer of NATO reinforcements through this channel, then these hopes are illusory.
– Obviously, the Poles need to explain the implementation of their military projects by some “trade and economic factors” – I am sure Pavel Feldman, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the RUDN University… – The world community should, from their point of view, be completely satisfied with such arguments. Of course, no one in the West will delve deeply into the essence of the issue. They are a priori ready to believe that Russia is hindering Polish ships passing through its territorial waters.
“SP”: – What do you think is more? The military component? Politicians? Economics? Why do they really need this channel? Why is there a need for it now?
– This plan was developed by the Polish leadership 10 years ago. From the point of view of ensuring the national security of Poland, it is absolutely meaningless. In the event of an armed conflict with Russia or Belarus, no transfer of tanks will help Warsaw. The goal is to exacerbate military tensions, which for the countries of Eastern Europe is the guarantor of an inflow of financial aid from the “senior partners” in the NATO bloc. And, of course, drawing attention to itself from Washington and Brussels.
“SP”: – Polish edition of Gazeta Wyborcza claims that the construction of the canal will not be a blow to Moscow, but, on the contrary, will lead to the enrichment of Russian businessmen. As the newspaper explained, 90 percent of the turnover of the port in Elblag, for the sake of which the canal is being built in the first place, falls on the Kaliningrad region, therefore, the entrepreneurs working there will receive the greatest benefit from the project. Is it so?
– Had it been so, the Russian side itself would have supported the construction of the canal. It is hard to imagine that Poland suddenly became preoccupied with the problems of Russian entrepreneurs. If she wants to help Kaliningrad business, then let her stop insisting on the prolongation of the EU’s Russophobic sanctions and admit the Sputnik V vaccine. This, by the way, would allow to restore a mutually beneficial tourist flow.
“SP”: – Is Alikhanov right when he says that Warsaw needs a new canal solely in order to be able to quickly transfer its tanks across the Baltic Spit? Well, they will transfer, then what? Does it threaten us with something?
– Poland is trying to play military-tactical chess. They are well aware that Russia will be forced to perceive the scenario with the transfer of tanks as a hypothetical threat to its western regions. Accordingly, there will be a need to build up the Russian military presence in the immediate vicinity of NATO’s borders. Representatives of the North Atlantic Alliance will immediately begin to shout that Russia is preparing to march on Warsaw. This is how the flywheel of the military confrontation between the Russian Federation and the EU is being unwound, which fully meets the interests of Washington.
“SP”: – Do we need to react somehow? And what can we do here? According to Alikhanov, the construction of this channel is being carried out in violation of international law and may lead to an environmental disaster in the region. Why, then, do the Russian authorities not raise this issue on international platforms?
– Large-scale environmental protests are in vogue in the West today. Maybe you should switch your attention Greta Thunberg and its activists from the far-fetched problem of global warming to real threats to the flora and fauna of the Baltic region? It is obvious that Poland’s actions contradict modern European ideas about sustainable development and environmental management. By the way, the Polish authorities have already had a serious conflict with the EU leadership over the brutal deforestation in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Russia could quite successfully play on the internal European ecological contradictions.