Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2014

Small Border Traffic with Kaliningrad: Challenges, Opportunities, Threats

Kinga Dudzińska, Anna Maria Dyner

October 2013

The Polish Institute of International Affairs


Small border traffic (SBT) between the Republic of Poland and the Russian Federation has proved to be a success story in its social, economic and cultural dimensions. Issuing local residents with permits to cross the border between Russia’s Kaliningrad region and several counties in Poland’s Pomorskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie voivodships has boosted mutual contacts, benefitted the tourism and retail sectors, and spurred scientific collaboration, youth exchanges, and cooperation among NGOs. Fears of increased crime in border regions or violations of the SBT agreement proved unfounded. At the same time, SBT has revealed an array of challenges facing both countries, including a need for the expansion of border crossing infrastructure and deepening regional and intergovernmental cooperation, especially with the eventual start of visa-free traffic or for such events as the World Cup finals in Russia in 2018.