Russian authorities' decision to take away war refugees from Ukraine that had been waiting to cross the border into Southeastern Estonia on Wednesday cannot be a coincidence, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), warning that behind the move may be a plan to organize provocations.
"The congestion arising at the border and its unexpected disappearance are no coincidence," Reinsalu said, speaking at Thursday's government press conference. "This is systemic activity and may in some form be provocative against EU borders."
According to the foreign minister, the formation of a line of Ukrainians waiting on the Russian side to enter Estonia alone was a deliberate action by Russian authorities, as was now the removal of people from the Russian side of the Kunichina Gora/Luhamaa along the Southeastern Estonian border on Wednesday.
Considering that people had arrived at that border checkpoint wishing to enter Estonia, their disappearance from there had to have been violent, he added.
"We don't have technical info regarding what force was used, but it's clear that in the context of the war being waged in Ukraine, Russia has chosen who is allowed to cross the border," Reinsalu said.
The foreign minister stressed that Estonia is prepared to employ all means necessary in the event of a threat at its border.
"We condemn the Russian Federation for not allowing war refugees to cross the border and for using them in hybrid actions," Reinsalu said. He confirmed that Estonia is monitoring the situation by all means at its disposal.
More than a thousand people, mainly Ukrainians, had been removed from the Russian side of the Kunichina Gora/Luhamaa checkpoint along Estonia's southeastern border, Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said in appearance on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Wednesday.
He added that the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) was working to find out more about their fate.
The crowds of people had accumulated on the Russian side of the checkpoint, many waiting for days with little to no shelter, food or water, as their crossing was delayed by Russian authorities dragging out border procedures.
Editor: Aili Vahtla