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Planned seven-tier defense border between NATO and Russia

A diagram from the Polish Ministry of National Defense showing the planned border defense.
Ministry of National Defense of Poland

  • Poland has unveiled a plan for new defenses along its borders with Russia and Belarus.
  • Poland and other European NATO members warn that Russia could launch an attack.
  • One image showed a wall, barbed wire, anti-tank obstacles and vegetation.

A NATO country unveiled a new plan for its border aimed at defending itself against attacks from Russia.

Poland’s Defense Ministry on Monday praised its ‘eastern shield’, an operation to strengthen the eastern border with Russia and Belarus.

It said the effort would be the largest defensive effort on NATO’s eastern flank since the end of World War II in 1945.

A diagram released as part of a policy document showed a segment of the planned ‘border zone’.

It contained at least eight different types of defense:

  • A permanent fence
  • Barbed wire
  • An anti-tank ditch
  • A field of anti-tank obstacles (known as hedgehogs)
  • Mines
  • Another ditch
  • A layer of vegetation

Officials also announced plans to expand warning and tracking systems and anti-drone systems, and to prepare advanced operating bases.

Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, General Wiesław Kukuła, said the project would strengthen Polish resistance, limit the mobility of enemy forces and protect Polish soldiers and civilians.

The border between Russia and Poland is at Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave in the north. It also shares a border with Belarus, a dictatorship considered a Russian puppet state that helped Russia invade.

Further south it borders Ukraine, where Russia has been carrying out a large-scale invasion since 2022.

The plan said not all border areas would be maximally fortified, but did not provide a detailed overview. Poland has a border of about 220 kilometers with Russia and about 400 kilometers with Belarus.

It said the ‘east shield’ plan will cover a total of 435 miles of the border.

Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, Poland’s Defense Minister, said work on the defense would start this year and end in 2028.

Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister estimated the costs at $2.56 billion.

Chief of Staff of the Polish Armed Forces. General Wieslaw Kukula and Deputy Defense Minister Cezary Tomczyk will discuss the plan to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday.
AP Photo/Tsaarek Sokolowski

The project is being implemented in cooperation with the nearby Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, with which Poland is working to increase security in the region.

All four countries were formerly dominated by the Soviet Union and have been outspoken about the prospect of Russia attacking again.

Poland and the Baltic states have been Ukraine’s most outspoken allies, calling for more dramatic responses than most Western countries.

Poland spends a higher percentage of its GDP on defense than any other NATO member, including the US.

Warnings Russia could attack

Poland is one of several European NATO members warning that Russia could attack elsewhere in Europe if it is not defeated in Ukraine. Due to NATO’s collective defense clause, this would also likely draw the US into a broader war.

The head of Poland’s national security service said late last year that Russia could attack NATO countries within three years – by 2026.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also said in March that Europe was in a “pre-war era” and urgently needed to prepare.

Other Russian neighbors are strengthening their borders

Other countries near Russia are also increasing their border defenses.

The Baltic countries are also planning major fortifications on their borders with Russia and Belarus, including bunkers.

Six NATO countries – Poland, Finland, Norway and the three Baltic states – are also reportedly planning a ‘drone wall’ to defend against Russia.

Poland already has a border wall between it and Belarus, which the previous government built last year to prevent migration.

Poland and its neighbors say Russia is targeting them by sending migrants across their borders and launching cyber attacks, describing the actions as Russian attempts to destabilize Europe.

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