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Visa-free Polish-Russian border traffic to remain suspended

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Visa-free local border traffic between Poland and Russia will not be restored anytime soon, the Gazeta Polska Codziennie daily has reported, pointing to military activities in the Kaliningrad exclave, The News reported.

A visa-free border traffic agreement, which made travel between Russia and Poland easier for residents of the border area, was suspended last year ahead of a NATO summit in Warsaw and World Youth Day in Kraków, southern Poland.

Gazeta Polska Codziennie quoted the Polish interior ministry’s Sebastian Chwałek as saying: “The negative events which have intensified recently include growing militarisation of the Kaliningrad exclave and increased activity of Russian special services”.

According to the daily, Russian media reported late last year that S-400 Triumf missile systems, which have a 400 km range and are able to seek out six targets at the same time, had been set up in the Kaliningrad exclave.

The daily added that, in the case of an invasion, Russia would be able to stop NATO forces from assisting the Baltic states.

Meanwhile, Gazeta Polska Codziennie said that MPs from Poland’s largest opposition party, Civic Platform, have demanded the reinstatement of the border traffic agreement, citing negative effects from its suspension.

These include Russians not spending money in Poland’s shops and restaurants, and limited family and cultural contacts across the border.

But the interior ministry said that alcohol, fuel and cigarette smuggling have fallen, adding that Poles are spending more in stores in Poland rather than shopping in Russia, according to the daily.

According to public broadcaster TVP Info, the interior ministry said that security is Poland’s main concern.

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