EDF volunteer: It was a big responsibility to help resolve border crisis

The EDF pioneers wading through a Polish river while installing razor wire.
The EDF pioneers wading through a Polish river while installing razor wire. Source: EDF

Estonian Defense forces volunteers who assisted on the Polish-Belarusian border said it was a great responsibility to help resolve the crisis and they would do so again if asked.

Corporals Kaarel Kadarik and Siim Bachmann discussed their mission on ETV's current affairs show "Ringvaade" on Tuesday. Their main task was to help construct a barbed-wire barrier along the border.

Kadarik said they went to Poland on a voluntary basis. "The crisis is ongoing. But to get involved and help solve it was a big and cool responsibility," he said.

Bachmann said the Defense Forces gave them an overview of the situation before they left, reminded them of their training and told them how to act in an emergency.

Kadarik said, before they arrived, there was a lot of confusion: "There was no clarity as to where, or what we were going to do. Gradually on the ground, we realized what the situation was and we were able to respond to it."

Defense Forces volunteers Siim Bachmann and Kaarel Kadarik. Source: ERR

Both men denied they went on the mission seeking danger.

"I don't think anyone went there to look for danger. Rather, to offer support and help," Kadarik said.

Bachmann added: "We didn't have a sense of danger ourselves either. We knew the area we were going to was low-activity. It wasn't a concern."

They did not face a real conflict situation at the border either. 

"We never saw migrants, but we saw a patrol of Belarusian soldiers across the river," Bachmann said.

Kadarik added: "We were in an area close to the border where there was activity. Work to ensure that there were no border crossings took place all the time."

Kadarik and Bachmann are ready to volunteer again if necessary.

In January, another 70 Estonian Defense Forces members will be sent to assist at the Polish-Belarusian border.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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