AK: Estonian private sector firm equipping Lithuanian border guard
An Estonian defense firm, DefSecIntel, is providing mobile cameras, drones and other surveillance equipment to Lithuania, as part of that county's combating migratory pressure on its eastern border, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday night.
Estonian-made surveillance cameras have seen international use for some time already, AK reported, including on the border between Ukraine and Belarus, where they were installed in a joint project with the U.S.
As for the Lithuanian border with Belarus, DefSecIntel CEO Jaanus Tamm told AK that: "We set it up on one of the areas where it was needed most. And after installation, no more violations were detected in that 20-square kilometer area."
DefSecIntel has installed both cameras installed on masts, and drones.
Estonia's Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has been providing the southernmost Baltic State with 10 of its own personnel on a monthly rotational basis since the migration crisis began in mid-summer.
The PPA personnel do not make use of the DefSecIntel equipment, however, AK said.
While Estonia does not share a frontier with Belarus, it has a long Schengen Zone land border with Latvia – and Latvia in turn borders both Belarus and Lithuania.
Egert Belitchev, head of the PPA's border guard department, told AK that: "There are already thousands of foreigners in Lithuania, and it is very likely that there are also people who want to move towards either the central or northern European countries. We do not yet have a specific solution that has been tested in Lithuania, but in those places where it is not realistic to construct any infrastructure, as mobile equipment is being used, then using such equipment in such areas is appropriate."
The PPA is working in conjunction with the EU-level border and coast guard Frontex, as well as Lithuanian authorities.
Frontex, too, has involved Estonian defense industry companies in equipping itself with tech, AK reported.
Estonia contributes personnel to Frontex, set up after the EU migrant crisis starting in 2015 and which followed civil war and unrest breaking out in Libya, Syria and other middle-eastern and North African states.
Many of the migrants who have been illegally crossing the Belarusian border into Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are originally from Iraq, and according to some media reports have been transported from that country to Minsk, then ferried to the border and, according to some filmed evidence, even physically goaded over the border into the EU by Belarusian security forces.
The development has been widely condemned by Estonia, EU and western leadership as a type of hybrid warfare on the part of the Alexander Lukashenko regime and a human rights abuse in using vulnerable people in a political game aimed at destabilizing the EU, to coincide with this autumn's joint Russian Federation-Belarusian large-scale "Zapad" ("West") military exercise.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte