Poland has opened a new waterway. This is so ships will no longer need to request permission for Russia to cross the Baltic Sea.
Officials say the move gives Poland sovereignty in the country’s northeast region.
The canal was formally opened on Set. 17 which was the 83rd anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland during World War II. Thousands of people attended the ceremony. The Zodiak II technical ship became the inaugural ship to pass through the canal.
“The idea was to have this waterway opened and not to have to ask permission anymore from a country that is not friendly and whose authorities do not hesitate to attack and subdue others,” said Polish President Andrzej Dudain in a statement about the new waterway.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said opening the canal was “a way toward freedom, new opportunities and new possibilities.” He also said the project was ” a testimony to the will, ability to fulfill, and striving for a strong, independent and sovereign Poland,” according to the Polish Press Agency.
The canal, although not officially finished, already costs roughly 2 billion zlotys or roughly $420 million. It traverses the Vistula Lagoon, stretching approximately 14 feet between the Gulf of Gdańsk to Elblag.
Elblag is the country’s fourth largest port. Ships will now be able to cross the Baltic Sea and reach smaller regional ports without needing to request authorization to cross the Strait of Pilawa. The Strait is controlled by Russia.
The government has said the region will now be open to new economic development due to the waterway opening.
“Poland is a truly independent, sovereign and strong nation that matters,” said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who leads the nation’s right-wing political party, reports The Hindustan Times. He supported the canal project which he said will lead to “a new impulse for the development of this land” and reduce unemployment.
At this time small ships and yachts can currently travel through the Vistula Spit, however, cargo ships will not be able to fully use the waterway until the area near the Port of Elblag is deepened 16 feet (5 meters). The project will cost 100 million zlotys or $21 million reports AP News.
Poland began construction of the canal in February 2019.