Reinsalu: Border infrastructure could be finished inside next year

Urmas Reinsalu.
Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu, who has previously served as both foreign minister and defence minister, criticized the speed at which the current government is implementing initiatives to improve national security. According to Reinsalu, the border infrastructure could be completed within the next year for instance.

Reinsalu said he was puzzled by the fact that several important and topical security issues had been overlooked by the National Defense Council on Tuesday.

"Interior minister (Lauri) Läänemets (SDE) claims, that it is not possible to speed up the construction of the border infrastructure to before 2025 using additional resources. This is not true. I clearly remember that at Isamaa's request, the border was discussed last summer. As I recall, the additional amount requested by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to speed up the construction was €19.8 million. To my surprise, the Minister of the Interior did not advocate for this allocation in the budget negotiations," Reinsalu said.

"Allocating the extra funds would make it possible to speed up the construction by setting the target of having the physical barrier (in place) for next year, and this is what should be done. We are no worse off than the Lithuanians or the Poles," he added.

Reinsalu would like to see the temporary border fence re-installed pending the construction of a permanent one.

He also said that stopping the issue of full visas to Russian citizens should be considered.

According to Reinsalu, what the public did not hear about in the National Defense Council was the government's unwillingness to consider the advice of the chief of the Defense Forces (EDF) regarding the next 10-year defense development plan. "Among other things, the acquisition of a drone defense capability was left off the list," he said.

He also said, that additional ammunition should be acquired. "As a matter of urgency, additional ammunition procurements need to be made so that we have the missing reserves. What has been done so far, and what is planned, is far from being enough, as everyone privy to these matters knows, and the head of the Defense Forces has pointed it out publicly," Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu added, that the government should take out a national defense loan in order to address these issues.

Reinsalu also added that clarity should be reached on the decoupling of Estonia's electricity system from the Russian grid.

"Lithuania has set a target of 2024, we are still talking about 2025 and Lithuania's inadequacy. We should adjust our current approach and implement desynchronization together with Lithuania. The U.S. has urged us to do the same," Reinsalu said.

"These are the most serious and time-critical security issues at the moment, to which, unfortunately, no answers were given to the public by the National Defense Council yesterday," Reinsalu said.

According to Reinsalu, the events in Russia last weekend put Estonia and its Western allies in a highly unpredictable situation. "This puts us in a much more dramatic context, where new variables, in addition to the central government in Russia, add to the uncertainty of events," Reinsalu said.

"The situation has become more dangerous because it has become more unpredictable. In light of this, our own security efforts have to be speeded up," Reinsalu said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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