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How a chilling ‘barbed curtain’ is falling across Europe as 2,000-mile frontiers with Russia and Belarus are fortified

A NEW “barbed curtain” is falling across Europe as fearful nations reinforce their frontiers against Putin’s “hybrid war” on the West.

Poland, Lithuania and Finland are erecting steel walls and razor wire fences on the borders with Russia and its ally Belarus.

Polish soldiers lay 8ft-high razor wire fences on the border with Kaliningrad this week

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Polish soldiers lay 8ft-high razor wire fences on the border with Kaliningrad this weekCredit: AP
The barrier will stretch for 144 miles along the frontier with the Russian exclave

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The barrier will stretch for 144 miles along the frontier with the Russian exclaveCredit: EPA
Barbed wire and sentry posts loom over Lithuania's border with Kaliningrad

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Barbed wire and sentry posts loom over Lithuania’s border with KaliningradCredit: Getty
A new 'barbed curtain' is falling across Europe

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A new ‘barbed curtain’ is falling across Europe

Fellow EU states Latvia and Estonia have also begun fencing their eastern borders, which snake through open countryside.

They fear Vladimir Putin and his puppet dictator Alexander Lukashenko will “weaponise” migration to sow chaos in the West.

Frontiers with a total length of 2,106 miles are due to be fortified by 2025 in a chilling echo of the Cold War’s Iron Curtain.

It comes after a rocket strayed over the border from Ukraine and killed two people in Poland, sparking crisis meetings at Nato.

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Earlier this month Polish troops began laying razor wire along the 144-mile border with Kaliningrad, Russia’s exclave on the Baltic sea.

Barbed defences 8ft high and 10ft wide will be supported by cameras, electronic monitoring and armed patrols.

Lithuania has also reinforced its 171-mile border with Kaliningrad and called on Nato to beef up troop deployments and air defences.

The territory – bristling with Russian missiles and a navy base – is sandwiched between the two EU countries and has long caused its neighbours anxiety.

Tensions are higher than for decades after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine stoked fears the Baltic nations could suffer the same fate.

Finland – which stayed neutral through two world wars and threats from the Soviet Union – has now joined Nato along with peace-loving Sweden.

And last month PM Sanna Martin confirmed plans to build a fence along the 830-mile border with Russia.

Currently there are only wooden posts and low fences to keep in livestock along most of the huge frontier that runs through thick forests into the high Arctic.

A mammoth building project will replace it with a much higher and stronger barrier.

“The Iron Curtain is gone, but the ‘barbed wire curtain’ is now unfortunately becoming the reality for much of Europe,” said Klaus Dodds, professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London.

“The optimism that we had in Europe after 1989 is very much now gone.”

The fences offer no protection from tanks and missiles, but are designed to stop surges of large numbers of people that would overwhelm border guards.

Governments believe Russia and Belarus will escalate previous efforts to drive thousands of asylum seekers towards the EU.

Professor Dodds said the tactic is a part of the Kremlin’s “hybrid war” on the EU.

‘Cynical and calculating’

Some southern European countries began building fences after the migrant crisis of 2015-16.

More than a million people entered the EU, mostly through Greece, Bulgaria and Italy.

But at the same time, Russia ushered thousands of Middle Eastern migrants to the northern border with Finland.

Amid deteriorating relations last autumn, Belarus flew in thousands of desperate asylum seekers from Iraq and Syria.

They were then put on buses and dumped on the borders with Poland and Lithuania in a twisted game of “human chess”.

We told how starving migrants were beaten with guns and electrocuted by Lukashenko’s security goons to force them to attempt a crossing.

One family was told: “Choose death or Poland.”

Most security analysts believe Belarus coordinated its effort with Moscow, “in effect destabilsing our borders ahead of war in Ukraine,” said Michal Baranowski, head of the Warsaw office of the German Marshal Fund think tank.

British troops helped Poland build a towering 18ft steel wall along the 116-mile border which was completed this summer.

Since then some people have got over with ladders or tunnelled underneath, and hundreds are said to be camping in wolf-infested forests after being refused asylum.

Polish government security official Stanislaw Zaryn acknowledged the wall does not stop everyone, but added: “It does allow our forces to act rapidly and more efficiently, without the need to deploy as much manpower as before.”

Both that wall and the fence with Kaliningrad “convey a strong message to Minsk and Moscow that Poland takes the security and integrity of its borders extremely seriously,” he added.

“I believe that Belarus and Russia will think twice before pursuing again the weaponisation of migration.”

Lithuania also built a wall along 311 miles of its 422 mile frontier with Belarus. Rivers and lakes already act as natural barriers across other parts.

Latvia has so far built 37 miles of permanent fencing and ten miles of temporary fences along its 107-mile border with Belarus.

And it has built 143 miles of border strip and 59 miles of permanent fencing on the border with Russia.

Meanwhile fellow Baltic state Estonia is fortifying its 183-mile Russian frontier – two-thirds of which spans lakes.

It has so far built 14 miles of a planned 71 miles of steel fences.

Norway has said it has no plans to erect fences on its 121 mile border with Russia – but says it can close the frontier at “a few hours’ notice”.

Some Russians dodged FSB patrols and crossed into Norway to dodge Putin’s Ukraine draft earlier this year.

It comes as Russia is feared to be plotting a renewed hybrid attack using the misery of impoverished asylum seekers.

This month it announced direct flights to Kaliningrad – not known as a top tourist destination – from the Middle East and North Africa.

Prof Dodds says Russia has been weaponising migration for several years as it engages in a “civilisation conflict with its European neighbours.”

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Russia bombed and harassed Syria’s population in 2015 “in a deliberate attempt to create a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

He added: “I think one of the difficulties we sometimes have outside of Russia is in actually appreciating quite how cynical, quite how calculating, quite how deliberate some of this work is.”

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Vladimir Putin

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Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Vladimir PutinCredit: Reuters
Polish soldiers lay razor wire at  Wisztyniec, on the border with Kaliningrad

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Polish soldiers lay razor wire at  Wisztyniec, on the border with KaliningradCredit: AP
Poland has also built an 18ft steel wall along the border with Belarus

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Poland has also built an 18ft steel wall along the border with BelarusCredit: AP
The wall was built after clashes between security forces and desperate migrants in November 2021

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The wall was built after clashes between security forces and desperate migrants in November 2021Credit: Reuters
Europe fears the Kremlin will once again ‘weaponise’ migration to sow chaos

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Europe fears the Kremlin will once again ‘weaponise’ migration to sow chaosCredit: Reuters

CET ARTICLE A ETE COPIE SUR www.thesun.co.uk

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