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Post New Walls in Europe
Created by John Eipper on 11/04/22 2:54 AM

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New Walls in Europe (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary, 11/04/22 2:54 am)

More than 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, more barriers are being raised every day in Europe, but above all these walls now concern Russia and its ally Belarus.

It might seem for all intents and purposes that a new geopolitical Iron Curtain is emerging, which is already a reality on the border between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, and which will soon be extended on the border between Poland and Kaliningrad, as well as between Finland and Russia.

However, these new walls are not the only ones in Europe, as there are also some on the border between Hungary and Serbia, between Bulgaria and Turkey, between Macedonia and Greece, and in the autonomous cities of Spanish sovereignty, Ceuta and Melilla, with Morocco.

According to The Economist, European countries have built more than 1,000 kilometers of fences in the last 30 years. Most of these were constructed since the 2015 refugee crisis.  The war in Ukraine has of course accelerated this trend. On the one hand, Polish soldiers have begun to build a fence that will be 210 kilometers long, two and a half meters high, and three meters deep with an electronic monitoring system and cameras.

Thus, the Polish Minister of Defense, Mariusz Balszczak, has said that his country is trying to prevent the Kremlin from provoking a new wave of migration as part of the hybrid war that it maintains with the Western allies closest to its borders.

Poland built a wall on its border with Belarus, after accusing Russia of being behind a wave of refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, who suddenly appeared on the border between Belarus and Poland, with the intention of entering in the European Union.

For their part, the Baltic States were also affected, especially Lithuania, which last summer finished its "wall" with Belarus.

The objective of the crisis that Russia provoked, in collaboration with its ally Belarus, was to destabilize Poland and the Baltic States, staunch opponents of the Kremlin, since they are obviously the ones who are most firmly supporting Ukraine in the war begun on February 24th. The European Union has accused Belarus of promoting this attack against Poland, which the Lukashenko government has categorically denied.

The "unsinkable aircraft carrier" exclave of Kaliningrad, on the southern coast of the Baltic between Lithuania and Poland, can house weapons a short distance from these two countries of the Atlantic Alliance.

According to Lithuania, there are nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, and the Russian Baltic Fleet docks at its port. The most sensitive point for NATO in this area is the so-called Suwalki corridor, which Russia can access from either Kaliningrad or Belarus.

Poland is also soon to be joined by Finland in erecting a barbed wire fence on its border with Russia. Finland, on the verge of joining NATO, shares 1,300 kilometers of border with Russia, and is willing to stop the passage of both Russians and migrants. There is broad parliamentary support for this initiative, which has the support of Prime Minister Sanna Marin, one of the strongest European leaders against Moscow. According to the Prime Minister of Finland, "it is about ensuring that our border guard has sufficient support to carry out proper and effective border control, as we have to be prepared for any disruptive situation."

Thus, the Finnish border guard suggested the construction of a metal fence several meters high, topped with barbed wire and equipped with surveillance cameras and sensors.  The project would take up to four years to complete and could cost several hundred million euros, according to the border guard.

Final approval of the main phase could be delayed until next April, when Finland holds parliamentary elections. Finally, it is obvious that the war in Ukraine has opened a great wound in the heart of Europe, which will be difficult to heal for decades.  An indelible trace of the conflict will remain the horror of the human tragedy, the desolation, and the "new frontiers" of numerous walls, each time higher, each time more insurmountable, that return us to painful scenarios of the past.

JE comments:  "Ms Marin, tear down this wall"?  One might counter that there's a difference between walls that keep other people out versus those that keep your own people in.  But walls are walls.  I am reminded of the recurring theme of the Euro banknotes--a bridge and a gate adorn each denomination. Possibly a redesign is in order, featuring famous walls of European history:  Hadrian's, Berlin, and the Maginot Line.

Walls are dramatic, but do they work?  The record of the above three walls was not impressive.  Sensors and cameras do the same job at an infinitely lower cost.  A few years ago I stuck my hand through the modest chain-link fence separating Poland and Belarus.  A Polish border officer immediately rode up on his motorcycle to see what I was up to.

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