The defense ministers of all three Baltic States have issued a statement calling the current situation on the border between Belarus and the European Union alarming, with deliberate escalation of an ongoing hybrid attack on the part of Minsk a serious threat to European security.
"We see the current situation as the most complex security crisis for our region, NATO and the EU in many years," the statement reads.
The three ministers, Kalle Laanet (Estonia), Artis Pabriks (Latvia) and Arvydas Anušauskas (Lithuania), note that large groups of people are being gathered and transported to the border area – principally Belarus' western border with Poland and with Lithuania, both EU member states – and then coerced into making illegal border crossings.
This action raises the likelihood of provocation and other serious incidents which might spill over into the military domain, the ministers say, a situation which requires more pan-EU action.
"We particularly call for increased practical support from the EU in strengthening the security of its external borders," the statement reads, adding that unity among NATO allies is also vital in ensuring deliberate attempts by Belarus and by the Russian Federation to destabilize European security come to naught.
The ministers also put the developments in the context of a recent Russian military build-up close to Ukraine, which they describe as both unusual and worrying.
The ministers pledged their support for neighboring countries, including Poland, which they said they would support bilaterally, and for vigilance in ensuring no actions by the two hostile states mentioned go unheeded.
Foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets said Thursday morning that Estonia's focus is on stressing internationally the severity of the current crisis on the Belarus-EU border.
The issue will also be raised at UN Security Council level on Thursday at Estonia's request, joined by France and Ireland.
Finland says that over 30 migrants who cross into EU territory have reached its shores, some via Estonia, in recent months, while several individuals have been intercepted in Estonia after crossing from Latvia.
Estonia regularly sends a Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) unit numbering close to 20 people to Lithuania, on a monthly rotational basis, to assist in border guard work there.
Editor: Andrew Whyte