Since war in Ukraine started European Union member states are looking how to bypass Russia and need to rely on them for gas supplies, but many countries in Russia closest neighbourhood are looking for new ways to open travel path towards the rest of the world to avoid going over Russian territory. Poland could be first of former Russia’s allies, now EU member, with significantly powerful idea to get itself out of Russia’s reach and make it’s own situation much easier. Donald Tusk, Poland’s PM, approved late last week project which has aim to build new a new canal which will bypass Russia’s territorial waters and will open new link to Baltic Sea.
At this moment canal which connects Vistula Lagoon with Baltic Sea goes through Russian territorial waters. All sea traffic from the Lagoon and the flourishing port of Elblag the proposed canal would cut through a narrow strip of land, 1 kilometre in length, which separates the lagoon from the sea. Tusk’s final sign off for this projects makes one of rare U-turns in his career and it is entirely caused by the war in Eastern Ukraine. Last year Tusk rejected plans for canal which will cost little bit over $300m CAD. It is worth to mentioned that Poland has 5-year agreement with Russia on navigation rights from the Vistula Lagoon which expires later this year and it is not expected to be extended as Russia already imposed sanctions on Poland’s export of fruit and vegetables to Russia based on Poland’s decision to support EU sanctions to Russia over Ukraine. Poland was and it is seen as Russia’s harshest critic among 28 members of EU and it was leader in calls for tougher sanction to Putin’s regime.
“We need to respond to the geopolitical situation. The Ukranine crisis has shown clearly that we need to rely more on ourselves and become independent of our largest neighbour” said Polish MP Stanislaw Lamczyk in statement to the local media.
In light of Lamczyk’s statement EU commentators and experts believe that plans to construct the canal mark the latest and probably a final attempt by Poland to shed itself of dependence on its old imperial master. This relationship goes well back to the past and it’s worth to mention that once Polish king Stanislaw Poniatowski was lover and puppet of Russian Empress Catherine The Great which continued later through history all the way to SSSR era when Poland was one of Russian colonies in Eastern Europe.
It will remain to be seen how this project will effect the rest of the European Union and how other member states will react in effort to fight tight grip which Russia has on them especially when it comes to one of the most important issues – natural gas. The rest of EU and the world will need to become more innovative and more orientated to each other if they want to bypass Russia effectively and on long term basis.