Poland opened a new canal Saturday that was built so ships do not have to get permission from Russia to pass from the Baltic Sea to the port of the Vistula Lagoon.
Hundreds of people gathered in the rain with Polish flags to watch the Zodiak II technical ship pass as it was being prepared for the opening of the canal, while the national anthem was played.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said in an address that the investment will be rewarded by the increase in the value of surrounding lands and the development of cities and ports on the lagoon, thanks to trade, business and tourism.
Duda said the aim is “to avoid having to ask permission from an unfriendly country whose authorities do not hesitate to attack and subjugate others.”
Built for around $420 million, the canal will allow travelers to go from the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Gdansk to Elblag and the lagoon’s smaller ports without Russia’s permission to pass through the Pilawa Strait.
The unfinished canal also shortens the Baltic-Elblag route by about 100 kilometers (62.1 miles).