The effects of migratory pressure on Latvia's border with Belarus have not been felt so far in Estonia, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Sunday. No surge in migration from Russia as a result of conscription and other issues brought about by the invasion of Ukraine have been seen either.
While Lithuania and Latvia have lengthy borders with Belarus, Estonia does not, though people finding their way into Latvia have in some cases made their way north to the Estonian border.
Speaking to AK, Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said: "The security picture has not changed at present; it has remained exactly the same for a year and a half, and we are prepared for anything. We have rehearsed, and at present a PPA unit is also helping the Latvians and really coming into contact with all this."
Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) personnel had also been deployed to Lithuania in summer 2021, during a time of intense migratory pressure on the Belarus-EU border, pressure wholly orchestrated by the Belarusian regime.
"However, there is no such pressure on the Estonian border. This really only concerns those borders with Belarus, where people are being used as weapons," he added.
While a recent incident saw migrants who had entered the EU illegally via Latvia present at the Latvian-Estonian border at Valga, Läänemets said that there was no need at this point in time to restore border checks there.
The last time a border regime was in place in Valga-Valka came during the Covid pandemic.
Läänemets said: "In the past, over five people arrived together and they were apprehended; the PPA, based on its information and communication with colleagues in neighboring countries, boosts patrols where needed, but the need to close off the border with Latvia is not present, as there is no such major movements of migration anywhere – precisely because we are currently helping out the Latvians, so that no one ends up in that country."
The Southeastern corner of Estonia is perhaps the most complex part of the frontier, being a tri-state boundary (ie. Estonia, Latvia, Russia).
While Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ensuing forced conscription and other aspects of life in that country have led to an increased desire to illegally enter Estonia and the EU, border officials have so far not seen greater pressure than before.
Arvi Suvi, head of the Saatse cordon in Võru County, told AK: "There is no such pressure directly on our region here. I would venture to say the same for the entire Southeastern border guard area – both the Saatse and Piusa cordon sections – but you can nonetheless see that fences have been erected on the neighboring side and the border is carefully guarded. There is probably still some greater desire to come here, from there."
In addition to illegal migration, the matter has affected the entry of vehicles into Latvia, from Belarus.
Public broadcaster LSM reports on its English-language page that Belarus-registered vehicles can legally enter Latvia, though since only one border crossing is open, this has led to lengthy wait lines.
As noted, Latvia has barred entry to Russian-registered vehicles coming from the Russian Federation.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Leevi Lillemäe.