On May 4, the Polish government adopted a draft amendment allowing the Polish Army to respond to terrorist attacks against the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline and other offshore energy infrastructure.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of Shipping and Seaports, prepared by the Ministry of Defence.
The authors of the draft reasoned that these provisions were intended to ensure that the Polish Army could respond effectively to terrorist threats from the sea and air, which cannot be neutralised by the means at the disposal of the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The proposed legislation envisages using the armed forces against terrorist threats against offshore energy infrastructure, including Baltic Pipe and other facilities and installations providing access to ports, offshore wind farms, subsea electricity and fibre optic networks.
The provision authorising the Minister of National Defence to issue a decision on the sinking of an enemy vessel or a floating object that is a terrorist threat is to be amended. The proposed law makes these provisions more specific.
The head of MoD determines the troops to neutralise the terrorist threat and the means to be used. However, this solution is envisaged only for exceptional situations when no other response options are left.
The application of the necessary measures of direct coercion will be carried out in such a way as to minimise the danger to bystanders, cause the least possible harm to the persons against whom the measures are used and limit the damage to the hostile ship or floating object, other ships and port infrastructure.
The new legislation also indicates that the area for conducting anti-terrorist activities at sea is to be extended to the entire Polish maritime zone.
“Detachments and subdivisions of the Polish Armed Forces will be subordinated to the Operational Commander, who will issue an order to use means of direct coercion, weapons and other armaments in a specific situation, in a way adequate to the threat and within the limits of the rules set out in ratified international agreements binding Poland,” the draft states.
The proposed amendment also regulates how to deal with a terrorist attack using a foreign civilian aircraft. According to the regulations adopted by the government, it will be possible to destroy it.
“However, this will only be possible in a final situation where an attack cannot be prevented by other means, and there are no persons on board the aircraft or there are only persons on board who intend to use the vessel for an attack of a terrorist nature,” indicates the government.
The project also assumes a permanent base of the Polish Border Guard to be established in the port of Świnoujście. The draft legislation is expected to enter into force 30 days after its announcement.