Poland is securing sections of its borders with Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, especially crossing points, with tank barriers to counter any attack from Russian or Belarusian armoured columns. Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszcak posted photos on Twitter on 23 February 2023 showing sections of completed barriers in the area of the Suwalki Gap in the country’s northeast.

The obstacles, which are about 1 m high, consist of welded steel profiles in three-dimensional X-shapes. They are reinforced by so-called tetrapods made of concrete, as they are also used in coastal protection. Since the obstacles do not appear to be fixed, they can be cleared, for example by armoured engineering vehicles. Consequently, additional measures, such as the placement of explosive charges and surveillance of the barriers by combat-ready posts, have to be implemented to ensure the barriers’ effectiveness.

Anti-tank barriers reinforcing the Polish border within the Suwalki Gap. (Photo: Polish MND)

The Suwalki Gap is a narrow corridor between the tri-border areas of Poland-Belarus-Lithuania and Poland-Kaliningrad-Lithuania. This corridor is the only land connection between Poland and the Baltic NATO countries on the one hand and between Kaliningrad and Belarus on the other. It is thus one of the critical sections of NATO territory.

Lithuania is also considering how to maintain the mobility of its own forces in this area while preventing that of enemy forces.

Gerhard Heiming