Vistula Spit canal project to be opened this year says minister

A new canal that will cut across the Vistula Spit, allowing Polish ships to reach the Baltic without having to pass through Russian-controlled water, will likely be opened this year, a deputy infrastructure minister has said.

The new waterway will take ships sailing across the Vistula Lagoon from the port of Elblag to the Baltic. At the moment they have to sail round the spit through Russia’s Strait of Baltiysk.

Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Grobarczyk told Polish radio on Tuesday that "everything indicates that at the end of this year the first ships will sail through the Vistula Spit canal."

"We do not want to specify the date, because we are faced with the difficult element of constructing a watertight gate. This is the first such investment in Poland, so there will probably be difficulties for everything to work properly," he added.

Russia has opposed the canal arguing that it will allow Nato warships to enter the Vistula Lagoon without passing close to the Russian military facilities at Baltiysk, and therefore it represents a direct threat to the security of Kaliningrad and the Russian Federation as a whole.

The Vistula Spit and Vistula Lagoon are part of a Nature 2000 protected area. In September 2020, the European Commission launched procedures against Poland over the country's failure to abide by the EU assessment rules regarding the environmental impact of the Vistula Spit canal project.