Poland’s dangerous eastern border takes center stage in upcoming elections

Poland’s eastern border with Belarus is becoming a prominent subject in the country’s upcoming elections due to increasing tensions and incidents.

The border issue: Poland constructed a 15-foot metal fence with security features along its eastern border in response to a surge of illegal migration facilitated by the Belarusian government.
* The tension is escalating, with reports of Belarusian military helicopters flying into Polish — and by extension, NATO — airspace.
* According to Katarzyna Zdanowicz, a spokesperson for the Polish Border Patrol, such incidents have become a regular occurrence.

The national response: Poland plans to send 10,000 additional soldiers to secure the border region after evidence emerged that the Russian Wagner mercenary group was training on the Belarus side of the border.
* Some analysts argue that the ruling right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) is exaggerating the border threat as a strategy for the national elections.

Community impact: Local tour businesses along the border have suffered due to the tension, with many tourists cancelling their reservations out of fear for their safety.
* COVID-19 and the migration crisis have also significantly affected tourism revenue in the region.

Political implications: The border tensions are unfolding alongside a political scandal involving Poland’s deputy foreign minister, who was caught selling work visas to migrants, which is at odds with the government’s strict border policies.
* The ruling party’s focus on border security in its re-election campaign could potentially be undermined by these developments.

Intriguing detail: Poland and Lithuania share a 70-mile border called the Suwalki Gap, connecting the Baltic states with the rest of the European Union.
* According to analyst Marek Swierczynski, taking control of this stretch of land would be a priority for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the event of a conflict between Russia and NATO.

View original article on NPR

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