Poland is so concerned over the possibility of Russian aggression that it has decided to beef up its security systems along its border with Russia, Newsweek reports citing the Polish press.
Warsaw has proposed a project that would construct a series of six 24-hour surveillance watch towers along Poland’s border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The towers will stand between 115 and 164 feet tall and will be spaced along the entirety of the 124 mile-long border between the two nations.
The project is expected to be completed by June.
The watchtower construction proposal comes amid growing concerns within Poland that Russia may attempt to destabilize eastern Europe, similar to how it’s projected itself into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Poland’s fears of Russian agression stem both from the country’s previous experience as a Soviet satellite state as well as its geographic realities.
In the east, Poland borders Ukraine and Russian ally Belarus, while Kaliningrad sits along Poland’s northeastern frontier.
Russia has made Kaliningrad a focus of a new military doctrine announced last year. Since at least 2012, short-range ballistic missiles have been deployed in Kaliningrad while Russia moved nuclear-capable Iskander missiles into the region in March. The territory also hosts the Russian Baltic Fleet as well as the Chernyakhovsk and Donskoye air bases.
The twin air bases have enabled Russia to conduct a series of provocative incursions into NATO airspace ever since the start of the Ukraine crisis. Russian spy planes, fighters, and bombers have flown in and out of Kaliningrad beforebeing interceptedby NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission.
The proximity to Kaliningrad and Ukraine has also raised concern that Russia could launch a hybrid warfare campaign within Poland. Polish general Stanisław Koziej, the head of the president’s National Security Bureau, has previously warned that Russia could pursue a policy of subversion and propaganda aimed at destabilizing the country.
In October 2014, Poland arrested two individuals suspected of spying for Russia’s military intelligence service (GRU). One of the suspects was a Polish army officer and the other was a dual-national attorney in Warsaw. The two spies are thought to be part of a network of at least a dozen GRU operatives collecting intelligence within Poland.
Poland has responded to growing Russian assertiveness by taking a greater lead within NATO. It’s expanded its military budget, with Warsaw pledging to spend 2% of its GDP on defence by 2016 in accordance with NATO spending goals.
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