Poland opened a canal linking the Baltic Sea with a lagoon whose only previous entrance went through Russian territorial waters.
The canal will eventually give seafaring vessels easier access to the city of Elblag but only once the lagoon is deepened and its port facilities enhanced. Critics have said the over-budget, 2.2 billion zloty ($467 million) project isn’t viable and is risky for the environment.
“Today, we are proving once again that Poland is a serious country,” ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said during an opening ceremony, which was broadcast live on the country’s main public television channel. “No one is able to stop us in such initiatives, we finish what we started.”
Saturday’s opening was timed to coincide with the 83rd anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Poland in the early days of World War II. The canal will allow ships to sail in out of the Vistula Lagoon, east of Gdansk, without obtaining authorization from Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania.