On Thursday, Russia released the two Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) contractual logistics workers, who had been detained after inadvertently straying across Estonia's southeastern border into Russian territory on Tuesday.
The logistics workers' release was announced at a government press conference on Thursday by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and confirmed to ERR by Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE). The men were handed over to Estonia at the Saatse border crossing point during a meeting between the two countries' border representatives, which began at 11.30 a.m. and lasted just over an hour.
"I am pleased to announce that the meeting between the Estonian and Russian border representatives at the Saatse border crossing point has just ended and two of our logistics workers are happily back on Estonian soil. More information [will be provided] as soon as possible," said PPA South Prefecture chief Vallo Koppel.
Interior minister Lauri Läänemets added, that the swift reaction and relentless work of the PPA to secure the release of the two logistics workers deserves recognition.
"As we stressed from the start, these were ordinary men carrying out maintenance work and a made human error in crossing the border. I'm pleased that the men have made it home and hopefully they will recover quickly. However, this incident is a lesson for the PPA for the future, and the PPA needs to analyze what happened in detail. However, there is one thing that must be concluded above all: we need to move forward rapidly with the construction of the border so that the entire land border is ready by 2025," Läänemets said.
On Tuesday, two Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) contract workers were detained by Russia after they mistakenly crossed the border while making preparations for border maintenance work.
The incident took place near the Saatse border crossing in Setomaa, south Estonia, while three logistics workers — who are contract workers not border guards — were inspecting a section of the border where maintenance is planned to be carried out, the PPA said in a statement.
Two men, aged 61 and 57, mistakenly drove an ATV into Russian territory at the crossing and were detained by Russian border guards just before 3 p.m.
On Tuesday, Estonian border guards and representatives of the Russian side met at the Estonian-Russian border to go over what happened there. However, no immediate agreement was reached on returning the PPA contractual logistics workers to Estonia.
Editor: Michael Cole