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Image shows a 7-layer defensive line planned for the border between NATO and Russia

Sinéad Baker   

Image shows a 7-layer defensive line planned for the border between NATO and Russia
  • Poland unveiled a plan for new defenses along its borders with Russia and Belarus.
  • Poland and other European NATO members are warning that Russia could launch an attack.

A NATO country unveiled a new plan for its border intended to defend against attacks coming from Russia.

Poland's defense ministry on Monday touted its "east shield," an operation to strengthen its eastern border with Russia and Belarus.

It said the effort would be the largest defensive effort on NATO's eastern flank since World War II ended in 1945.

A diagram released as part of a policy document showed one segment of the planned "border zone."

It featured at least eight distinct types of defense:

  • A permanent fence
  • Barbed wire
  • An anti-tank ditch
  • A field of anti-tank obstacles (known as hedgehogs)
  • Mines
  • Another ditch
  • A layer of vegetation

Officials also stated plans for increasing warning and tracking systems and anti-drone systems as well as preparing forward operating bases.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, General Wiesław Kukuła, said the project would strengthen Poland's resistance, limit the mobility of enemy troops, and protect Polish soldiers and civilians.

The Russia-Poland border is with Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave to its north. It also shares a frontier with Belarus, a dictatorship considered a Russian puppet state that has aided Russia with the invasion.

Further south, it borders Ukraine, where Russia has been executing a full-scale invasion since 2022.

The plan said not all border areas would be fortified to maximum strength — but did not give a detailed breakdown. Poland has around 140 miles of border with Russia and around 250 miles with Belarus.

It said the "east shield" plan will cover 435 miles of border in total.

Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, Poland's defense minister, said work on the defenses would start this year and end by 2028.

Poland's deputy prime minister estimated the cost at $2.56 billion.

The project is being done in cooperation with the nearby Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, which Poland is working with to increase security in the region.

All four countries used to be dominated by the Soviet Union and have been outspoken about the prospect of Russia attacking again.

Poland and the Baltics have been Ukraine's most forthright allies, advocating for more dramatic responses than most Western countries.

Poland spends a higher percentage of its GDP on defense than any other NATO member, including the US.

Warnings Russia could attack

Poland is one of many European NATO members that warning that Russia may attack elsewhere in Europe if it is not defeated in Ukraine. Because of NATO's collective defense clause, that would likely also bring the US into a wider war.

The head of Poland's national security agency said at the end of last year that Russia could attack NATO countries within three years — by 2026.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also said in March that Europe was in a "pre-war era" and needed to prepare urgently.

Other Russian neighbors are boosting their borders

Other countries near Russia are also increasing their border defenses.

Baltic countries also plan big fortifications on their borders with Russia and Belarus, including bunkers.

Six NATO countries — Poland, Finland, Norway, and the three Baltic states — are also reportedly planning a "drone wall" to defend against Russia.

Poland already has a border wall between it and Belarus, built by its previous government last year to prevent migration.

Poland and its neighbors say Russia is targeting them by sending migrants across their borders and by launching cyberattacks, describing the actions as Russian efforts to destabilize Europe.

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