Poland plans to construct a new canal to bypass a stretch of coastline controlled by Russia, as the country tries to rid itself of dependence on its neighbour. Costing an estimated £167 million, the planned canal will link the Vistula Lagoon in the north east of Poland with the Baltic Sea. Currently, all sea traffic from the lagoon and the flourishing port of Elblag has to travel through Russian waters to get to the Baltic. The canal will cut through a narrow strip of land separating the lagoon from the sea.
The approval of its construction marks an about-turn for Poland's centre-right government led by Donald Tusk, the prime minister. A year ago he rejected plans for the canal, but the war in eastern Ukraine and Russia's apparent willingness to meddle in the affairs of its neighbours appear to have changed the government's mind.
"We need to respond to the geopolitical situation," Stanislaw Lamczyk, an MP and member of the Polish parliament's infrastructure committee, told the Polish press. "The Ukraine crisis has shown clearly that we need to rely more on ourselves and become independent of our largest neighbour."
Poland has a five-year deal with Russia on navigation rights from the lagoon to the sea that expires this year, and there are fears Moscow may not extend the agreement. Warsaw has been one of the Kremlin's harshest critics during the Ukraine crisis and has led calls for the EU to take a hard line with Moscow.
Source: The Telegraph