Poland opens new canal across the Vistula Spit

Poland has opened a new sea waterway to enable ships to sail from the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Gdansk to ports of Vistula lagoon without relying on Strait of Pilawa in Russia.

Key facts

  • The new canal was opened on the 83rd anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland during the Second World War.
  • This was done to symbolically demonstrate the end of Russia’s influence on the country’s economy and development.
  • The new canal cuts across the Vistula Spit, east of Gdansk, enabling ships sailing to travel from the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Gdansk to Elblag and other ports of the lagoon without getting authorization to travel through Russia’s Strait of Pilawa.
  • It also reduces the Baltic-to-Elblag route by some 100 km.
  • Currently, while the smaller ships and yachts can use this route, cargo ships cannot sail through until the approach to the Port of Elblag is deepened to 5 meters. This is expected to cost 21 million USD.
  • The overall cost of this project is 2 billion USD.

About Vistula Spit

The Vistula Spit is an Aeolian sand spit or a peninsular stretch that separates the Vistula Lagoon from the Gdansk Bay in the Baltic Sea. Its tip is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Pilawa. This spit is politically divided between Poland and Russia as the border between Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast (semi-exclave belonging to Russia) passes through it.

Strait of Pilawa

Situated in Kaliningrad Oblast, the Strait of Pilawa is a waterway that connects the Baltic Sea with the Vistula Lagoon – a brackish water lagoon separated from the Gdansk Bay by the Vistula Spit. The strait is a major shipping route connecting Russian ports of Baltiysk and Kaliningrad in the northeastern lagoon and the Polish ports like Elblag, Braniewo, Frombork etc., with the open sea.

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