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European Council summit to discuss Poland’s Suwalki Gap

At an EU summit scheduled for Thursday, the bloc's heads of government will discuss Poland's Suwalki Gap region as well as reinforcement of the eastern flank and the food crisis, Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said.
STEPHANIE LECOCQ/PAP/EPA

At an EU summit scheduled for Thursday, the bloc’s heads of government will discuss Poland’s Suwalki Gap region as well as reinforcement of the eastern flank and the food crisis, Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said.

The Suwalki Gap, also known as the Suwalki Isthmus or Suwalki Corridor, is a sparsely-populated area in Poland’s north-east on the border with Lithuania. It is of strategic importance to Nato as it forms a bridge between Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Earlier in the week, Politico reported, citing western military planners, that in the event of a Russia-Nato conflict, the Suwalki Gap would probably be “the first point of contact.”

Speaking in Brussels ahead of the summit, Morawiecki said the region was on the Council’s agenda.

“Today Poland, together with Lithuania, is at the epicentre of that diplomatic effort to reinforce Nato’s eastern flank, but also the eastern flank of the EU,” he said.

One factor underpinning the bloc’s focus on the Suwalki Gap is a Lithuanian embargo on Russian imports of steel and iron products to the region, which came into force last week as part of EU sanctions, and which Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said Poland supported.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded on Monday that Lithuania immediately lift the “hostile restrictions” and asserted its right to “take actions to defend its national interests.”

The EU summit is also expected to bestow EU candidate country status on Ukraine.

Another issue to be discussed by EU leaders is the food crisis. “(Russian President Vladimir – PAP) Putin wants to provoke famine in North Africa and the Middle East,” Morawiecki said. “Poland is today an important transit channel for Ukrainian grain and Ukrainian goods to North Africa and the Middle East. We play a key role here. We can further strengthen our activities if we receive support from the EU.”

The war in Ukraine has paralysed food exports from that country causing sharp increases in food prices globally. According to a forecast by the American Center for Global Development, food price hikes will force 40 million people worldwide into extreme poverty and the risk of famine. 


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