Third PPA detachment traveling to Lithuania
A third Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) detachment is to be sent to Lithuania to assist in migratory pressure on that country's border with Belarus. The units, around 10-strong, have been serving there on a rotational basis.
The detachment, Estpol5, will relieve a unit of the same size, which has been deployed to the southernmost Baltic State for the past month.
Rasmus Sarap, heading up the unit and head of PPA field operations in the eastern Estonian town of Jõhvi, said that he was: "Pleased that we have a very versatile team. I believe that by helping Lithuania together, we have an opportunity to learn through a practical experience simultaneously from our foreign colleagues as well as from each other. We wish to support Lithuania as much as possible and thereby also further strengthen our international cooperation."
Estonia pledged support to Lithuania after a surge in the numbers of people crossing the border illegally from Belarus started mid-summer. The Estonian leadership has widely condemned the phenomenon as a form of hybrid warfare on the part of an Alexander Lukashenko regime embittered by Lithuania's sheltering of Belarusian opposition leaders and EU sanctions on Belarus.
President Kersti Kaljulaid has denied that the situation on the Belarus-Lithuania border represents a migration crisis, while condemning the use of vulnerable people to attain political ends.
Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, lies just 30km from the border with Belarus, while the other to EU states bordering Belarus, Latvia and Poland, have also seen significant numbers of people, predominantly of Iraqi origin, crossing the border illegally, with some evidence that this is being done at the behest of Belarus' security forces.
The Estonian state has also supplied tents, barbed wire and other equipment, while an Estonian private sector firm is also involved in surveillance on the border.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte