PPA: Currently no threat of mass illegal border crossings into Estonia

Refugees at Estonia's Koidula border crossing in south Estonia.
Refugees at Estonia's Koidula border crossing in south Estonia. Source: ERR

There is currently no threat that a wave of refugees will try and cross Estonia's border in areas without crossing points, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said on Wednesday.

Approximately 1,000 Ukrainian refugees were removed from Russia's Kunichina Gora crossing point, on the south Estonian border, on Wednesday and the PPA is trying to find information about where they were taken.

It has not been ruled out that Russia will try and direct them to cross the border into Estonia elsewhere, not at a border crossing, as migrants were pressured to do on the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian borders with Belarus.

Hundreds of Ukrainians fleeing the war have entered Estonia each day this week through the southern border crossings. But on Wednesday, this had slowed to a trickle and Wednesday's "Aktuaalne Kaamera" counted only 12 people in five hours.

None of the Ukrainians who AK spoke with had seen the refugees being taken away in trucks, as Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) told the media on Wednesday.

Peter Maran, head of the PPA's south-eastern border post, said: "There are some changes in the pipeline. There are rumors that the queue has disappeared."

Peter Maran Source: ERR

But the PPA did not confirm they had been removed in trucks.

"In Russia, volunteers, clerics and monastery workers assist war refugees waiting to cross the border. They may have been offered shelter so that they do not have to wait outside. But time will tell as we get more information," Maran said.

Meelis Saarepuu, head of the PPA's southern border guard office, told AK the PPA is still gathering information. But, he said there is currently no threat that illegal crossings will take place.

Saarepuu said there are enough border guards at the border and they have identified areas where problems could potentially arise.

"But the threat assessment that we could now be facing a massive wave of illegal crossings of the green or so-called land borders — we do not have it," he said.

Koidula border point. Source: ERR

The official said border guards have practiced various scenarios and are ready if something occurs.

The number of Ukrainians crossing the border in Narva has also risen in recent days and since the start of Russia's military mobilization. However, the situation is much calmer there than in the south.

The PPA said traffic is not queuing on the Ivangorod-Narva border.

"I was in this queue for six days"

AK spent five hours on the border on Wednesday (October 5) and spoke to Ukrainians who had managed to enter Estonia.

A queue of refugees formed at the Russian-Estonian border over several days due to the Russian border guard's slow checking process.

They waited several days to exit Russia, standing at the crossing with minimal shelter and food. Volunteers have been helping and the Social Insurance Board is ready to offer assistance as soon as the Ukrainians arrive in Estonia.

Ukrainians queueing to leave Russia at the Kunichina Gora/Luhamaa border crossing. Source: ERR

Žanna told AK about her wait.  

"About three days ago there were a lot of people standing there, about 500-600. One woman got sick on the bus, she was brought out onto the road, an ambulance was called, the ambulance didn't arrive and she died," she said.

Several people told AK that a tent had recently been erected.

Inna, also from Ukraine, told the show: "I was in this queue for six days. Now, yesterday, a tent appeared, I don't know who put it up, but at least people got shelter from the rain. Tonight the whole queue has disappeared. The pedestrian lane is completely free."

Žanna also mentioned the tent and spoke about the help being provided by volunteers.

"Russian volunteers brought a tent there, they set up a tent for people, so at least there would be something. And they gave out medicines, they gave out umbrellas, they gave out rubber boots for the children," she said.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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