Vistula Spit canal to open on September 17 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 waters, will be opened on September 17, 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 the Strait of Baltiysk in waters belonging to Russia's Kaliningrad exclave.

Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Marek Grobarczyk told a press conference on Tuesday: "On September 17, the (Vistual Spit) canal will be opened and the first ships will sail through it."

Russia has opposed the canal arguing that it will allow Nato warships to enter the Vistula Lagoon without passing close to 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 1.3-kilometre canal is part of a massive project which required the construction of 22.8 kilometres of new water routes, an artificial island and civil engineering and road infrastructure.

The planned date of the canal's opening coincides with the 83rd anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in collaboration with Nazi Germany.