The number of Ukrainian refugees arriving at Estonia's southeastern borders has increased significantly in recent days, the Police and Border Guard (PPA) said on Wednesday. Many people are fleeing from Crimea and potential mobilization.
At noon on Wednesday, there was a long queue of cars to cross the Russian-Estonian border at Luhamaa. There were also people arriving on foot with just a suitcase.
"If before in the southeastern corner Ukrainian war refugees mainly came through the Luhamaa border crossing, then [now] the Koidula border crossing has come under a lot of pressure. In the last 24 hours, around 460 Ukrainians arrived in Estonia through Luhamaa and Koidula. A new trend I would point out is that war refugees from Crimea are arriving who fear mobilization, who are afraid of war," said Peter Maran, the PPA's head of the southeast border crossing point.
It is said there are also long queues on the Russian side too.
Most of the new arrivals seemed to be exhausted and did not want to speak on camera, Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported from the border.
Some say that they are afraid for their family members in Russia.
"Oleme teinud ka Vene kodanikele sisenemiskeelde üsna palju. Mõni on tulnud lihtsalt turismireisile, mõni on mobilisatsiooni eest põgenenud. Osad tulevad turismiviisadega, väidavad, et lähevad sugulastele külla, tegelikkuses vestluse käigus selgub midagi muud.
"We have also denied entry to quite a lot of Russian citizens. Some have come simply for a tourist trip, some have fled mobilization. Some come with tourist visas and they claim to be visiting relatives, [but] in reality during a conversation it turns out to be something else," Maran said.
"There are also Russian citizens who claim that they are fleeing the war in Ukraine. As a rule, they have some kind of Ukrainian documents with them, but during the interview [at the border] it turns out that they are already long-term residents of Russia and therefore they are not war refugees."
So far, more than 35,000 Ukrainian refugees have applied for temporary protection in Estonia.
Estonia is a major transit for Ukrainians fleeing war, as they cannot usually travel to Ukraine from occupied territory and must travel through Russia to the EU.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera