Narva river border section upgrade expected to cost at least €20 million

Razor wire on the Estonian-Russian border.
Razor wire on the Estonian-Russian border. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Bringing Estonia's northeastern border up to spec will cost another €20 million, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) frontier patrol section Egert Belitšev says. The 75-km section runs along the Narva river, a natural boundary in itself but still requiring an upgrade. Only around half of this section currently has surveillance tech in place, he added.

Belitšev said that while some areas are already adequately monitored, others currently do not have surveillance coverage and will need 15 more monitoring stations to ensure the stretch of border is fully covered.

Plugging these gaps will cost at least €20 million, he said – installing surveillance and security equipment and constructing border patrol routes.

Making the eastern border consistent in its security is important, Belitšev added, amid fears of a surge in migratory pressure similar to that seen in recent months on the Belarus-EU border.

"Considering the bends in the Narva river, tributaries and things like that, access to many places is extremely difficult, or essentially impossible [at present]. In some cases, in order to react, we are forced to make a 30- or 40-kilometer detour route, at present," Belitsev told ERR Thursday.

Preliminary work has been done, Belitšev added, while funding is awaited.

Much of the focus on Estonia's border with the Russian Federation has fallen on the southeastern section, the only major part of the frontier which is on land.

Since late last week, a civilian-military project involving the PPA and Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) reservists has been installing temporary razor wire in those sections of the border not yet cordoned-off, and that work has now been declared finished.

A section of the Narva river, more specifically on one of its tributaries which is essentially a dry river bed, received the same treatment at the weekend.

The Narva river stretch in any case requires tech and access roads – at present the PPA can generally only access it via public roads, meaning even those border violations which are seen may not get reacted to in time, and, Belitšev said, only about 60 percent of the river is covered by surveillance tech.

The bulk of the eastern border consists of a major waterway, the Peipsi järv-Lämmijärv-Pihkva järv system.

While Estonia does not share a border with Belarus, reports of a potential opening up of a second migratory route via the Russian city of Pskov, and its airport, just 30km from Estonia's border, have heightened concerns.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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