Estonian and Latvian police conducting joint border patrols
Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) personnel are to conduct joint patrols with their Latvian counterparts the two states' border, following migratory pressure on Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in recent weeks.
Latvia and Estonia share a 333-kilometer long Schengen Area land border which, while it has seen checks reinstalled during the pandemic, stretches across mostly sparsely populated and heavily forested areas.
Maksim Korzin, senior law enforcement officer at the PPA's West Prefecture says the initiative is not the first of its kind, either involving Estonia and Latvia, or other Schengen Area states.
He said: "Joint patrols are an additional way of ensuring security on the border and preventing the migratory pressures which have arisen in Lithuania and Latvia in recent months from reaching Estonia."
"We are in constant communication with our Latvian counterparts and, like us, they have stepped up controls in the border area. From this week, we will start joint patrols in the territory of the neighboring country," Korzin continued.
"This is a good opportunity to ensure, in cooperation between countries, security and public order at the border, and to prevent offenses and the emergence of new channels of illegal migration," Korzin added.
Several thousand migrants, predominantly from Iraq, have crossed over Belarus border into Lithuania, Latvia and Poland since early on in the summer.
Leadership in all the Baltic States and Poland have referred to it as a type of hybrid warfare on the part of the Alexander Lukashenko regime, one which exploits human vulnerability, with some reports saying the migrants were transported to the border by Belarusian security forces.
The joint Latvian-Estonian patrols are to continue over the next month, and also have the powers to check documentation of those crossing the border or traveling in its vicinity, BNS reports.
In early August, the PPA deployed additional patrols on Estonia's southern border and at sea ports.
Estonia has also sent a detachment of PPA officers to Lithuania, where the migratory pressure has been heaviest, and also sent equipment such as tents and razor wire.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte