A view of the new shipping canal through the Vistula Spit in Skowronki village, northern Poland, on Saturday. The new waterway gives Poland direct access to the Baltic Sea from the Vistula Lagoon with the omission of the Russian-controlled Strait of Baltiysk. Photo by Adam Warzawa/EPA-EFE
Sept. 17 (UPI) — Poland opened a new canal Saturday linking the Vistula Lagoon to the Gdańsk Bay, allowing ships to visit the port of Elbląg without needing Russian permission to use its Baltiysk Strait.
The country has been a strong ally to its neighbor, Ukraine, amid its war with Russia and timed the opening to occur on the 83rd anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union in World War II.
“A state that understands its potential, its history and its importance cannot afford to be a dependent state. It cannot allow someone else to decide about its important strategic matters,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a statement.
“This was the case throughout this extremely difficult period, from 1945, when it was impossible to influence the Vistula Lagoon here without the de facto consent of the Russian President, emphasized today.”
Construction of the $420 million canal, which has not been completed, began in February 2019. Cargo ships will not be able to use the canal until it has been deepened another 16 feet.
The Jamestown Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington D.C., said in an analysis at the time that Moscow commentators opposed the canal because it would give NATO ships access to the Vistula Lagoon, which is also known as the Kaliningrad Bay.
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