Civilian and military personnel have been removing razor wire installed on Estonia's southeastern border nearly a year ago amid fears that a migration crisis precipitated by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus would be played out in Estonia also, in this case by the Russian Federation, daily Postimees reports.
Active construction is underway on a 40-kilometer section north of Luhamaa, Postimees reports, while Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) project manager Natalja Abel said the removal of the wire was necessary ahead of permanent border infrastructure construction work, which itself is ahead of schedule, partly due to favorable weather conditions.
As reported by ERR News, Egert Belitšev, PPA deputy director for the border guard, recently said that the authority wants the infrastructure completed as planned by 2025, and the removal of the razor wire is for this reason and not for the reason that, as is sometimes claimed by locals, a PPA dog had injured its paws on the wire, or that wildlife has also been injured, even succumbing to the injuries in the case of a female elk caught on the wire.
The discarded wire is now stacked up on the Estonian side of the boarder, alongside the Marinova quarry (on the Russian side), though locals in Setomaa have said that there seems to be large areas again unprotected.
Natalja Abel noted that the removal is necessary ahead of construction work starting, while Eve Kalmus, head of the PPA's border administration office said that such wire, put in place as part of a reservist training exercise last November and following the migrant crisis which had seen people, often of middle-eastern origin, forcibly driven towards the border between Belarus and Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, is not the only way in which the border can be kept protected.
The original Postimees piece is here.
In the event, while large numbers of refugees crossed the border into the EU nations of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, often forced over by Belarusian guards and ending up in camps once over the border, fears of similar scenes being played out on Estonia's border with Russia – Estonia does not border with Belarus – did not materialize.
Much of Estonia's border with Russia follows waterways, mainly the Narva River and Peipsi järv, and it is only in the southeast where there is a substantial land boundary, which had long been not clearly demarcated and runs through sparsely populated, often heavily forested or boggy terrain.
The migrant issue receded from the media spotlight with the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine from late February.
The razor wire was always intended to be a temporary installation.
Editor: Andrew Whyte