Tusk plans to spend €2.35bn on fortifications along Poland's borders with Belarus and Russia

Tusk plans to spend €2.35bn on fortifications along Poland's borders with Belarus and Russia
Donald Tusk inspecting Polish soldiers in Krakow on May 18, 2024 / Polish Prime Minister's Office
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw May 20, 2024

Poland will build a system of fortifications along its borders with Belarus and Russia to make them “impassable” for enemies, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on May 18.

Fortified borders will be an element of the broader comprehensive plan – named Shield East – to ensure national security, Tusk told a meeting in Krakow. With Russia’s war raging in neighbouring Ukraine, Poland has grown tense about a scenario in which the Kremlin zeroes in on Poland if Ukraine has been defeated. 

The plan’s foundation will be rooting Poland “permanently in the Western community”, Tusk said.

The PM also vowed to clamp down on “provocateurs” and “acts of sabotage and diversion” and wants to involve Poland in the development of the so-called “European dome,” the EU’s common air defence system.

“We are doing this to deter our adversaries, so that all those who wish ill upon Poland, who plan attacks and aggression against our allies or our country, hear it today: hands off Poland, Poland is strong, Poland will be safe,” Tusk said.

The government has earmarked PLN10bn for the border fortification plan, the PM said. That will “make the Polish border safe in times of peace and make it impassable for the enemy in times of war”, Tusk said.

Poland already spends close to 4% of its GDP on defence, making it Nato’s top spender ahead of the US and Greece.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Poland has also become the West’s strategic point for supplying Kyiv with weapons and ammunition. That made the country an ever more important target for Russia’s intelligence, disinformation, and cyberattacks.

“Next week, I will inform the public in Poland about actions taken by the Polish state against those responsible for provocations, acts of sabotage, and diversion,” Tusk said.

The Tusk-led coalition government is facing an EU election next month. The PM has recently intensified rhetoric against the main opposition party, Law and Justice (PiS), painting it as anti-EU and pro-Russia.

“Russia means hostility toward the West, especially the European Union, contempt for the rule of law and all minorities, politicisation of the economy and media, corrupt state, religion serving the government, and the dominance of special services. Open your eyes and look for similarities,” Tusk said in Krakow, alluding to PiS.