Poland to build razor-wire fence on border with Russia's Kaliningrad

Border fence with Russia is seen at the Suwalki Gap area, the land corridor on the shared border between Lithuania, Poland and Russia Flanked by Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad to the north-west and its ally Belarus to the south-east, the strip of land that runs for only 104 kilometres (65 miles) is the sole land connection between the Baltic states and NATO's European members. October 17, 2022. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Poland will build a razor-wire fence on its border with Russia's Kaliningrad, its defence minister said on Wednesday, amid concerns that the enclave might become a conduit for illegal migration.

Construction of the temporary 2.5-metre (8ft) high and 3-metre deep barrier will start immediately, Mariusz Blaszczak told a news conference.

With tensions rising due to the war in Ukraine, he cited security concerns and referred to a crisis triggered last autumn when thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants tried to cross the Belarus border into Poland, some of whom died.

However, a spokesperson for Poland's Border Guard said no illegal entries from Kaliningrad into Poland took place in October.

"The Polish-Russian border is stable and calm. There has been no illegal crossing of the border," Anna Michalska said.

"We are not only there in times of peace. We are prepared for various crisis situations and after what happened on the Polish-Belarusian border we are even more prepared for everything, for all of the darkest scenarios," she added.

The European Union at the time accused Belarus - a close ally of Russia - of flying the migrants in as part of a "hybrid" warfare campaign to destabilise Europe. Minsk denied wrongdoing.

Blaszczak said the Kaliningrad barrier would be similar to the one that Poland set up along the border with Belarus last year.

Online business magazine Russia Briefing reported last month that Kaliningrad is seeking to attract airlines from the Gulf and Asia under a new open skies policy.

The enclave, where Russia has a significant military presence, lies on the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania and is separated from Belarus by a border corridor.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Koper; editing by John Stonestreet and Angus MacSwan

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