The Polish government has announced plans to erect six watch towers along its border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad as tensions in eastern Europe continue to rise.
The move is likely a response to recent reports claiming that Russia has dispatched a number of short-range missiles to Kaliningrad as part of extensive military exercises in the Arctic.
The towers, each measuring up to 164ft high, will stream live video to Polish guards to help them monitor Poland’s 124-mile border with Kaliningrad.
“We are currently in the test phase of the technical installations on the towers… We plan to be fully operational by June this year,”
Polish border guard spokesman Miroslawa Aleksandrowicz told the Polish Associated Press.
Estimates put the cost of the project at roughly $3.8 million. Poland, however, will only have to cover a quarter of the cost, with the other 75% coming from the EU’s External Borders Fund.
For centuries, Kaliningrad — formerly known as Konigsberg — was a key port for the Prussian empire (the pre-cursor to Germany).
After being destroyed by British bombers and Russian ground forces during WWII, the region was incorporated into the USSR and renamed Kaliningrad. When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Russia was able to hold on to the region, making it an enclave separate from mainland Russia.
For the past few decades, Poland and Kaliningrad have shared a fairly amicable relationship. The PAP estimates that around 6.5 million people crossed the border between Poland and Kaliningrad last year.
However, Russia’s involvement in Ukraine has made life increasingly difficult for Kaliningrad’s residents, and Poland is even considering restricting movement in and out of the Russian enclave.