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New security systems significantly raise eastern border construction costs

Construction work at Estonia's eastern border in spring 2023.
Construction work at Estonia's eastern border in spring 2023. Source: Leevi Lillemäe/ERR

Adding new surveillance and drone detection systems to Estonia's eastern to meet the changing security situation means significantly raising the cost of constructing the eastern border fence.

Approximately €150 million is allocated for the development, expansion and maintenance of Estonia's eastern border. Almost €60 million has been spent on construction so far. 

While the project is on track, Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported, new technology is pushing up the price.

"Even today, there are activities and technical tools that are not covered by the budget. We are constantly working with the Ministry of the Interior to map and look for ways to find space for these in the budget," said Merle Tikk, the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) construction project manager.

"We see that additional resources would be needed to build up surveillance capabilities and – looking at the trends that are happening in the security world today – undoubtedly also to build up drone detection and counter-drone capabilities."

The majority of Estonia's eastern border runs through the River Narva and Lake Peispi. Source: Ministry of Interior.

By the end of 2023, nearly 60 kilometers of the land border are expected to be completed. The PPA believes constructing roads on the control line is an important aspect.

"We are able to patrol along the border with means of transport. In the past there were places that were impassable on foot in certain seasons with an ATV, sled in winter or on foot. Today it is much easier to guard the border and we are able to get there much faster," said Meelis Saarepuu, head of PPA's Southern Border Guard Office.

Border construction started in 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2025. It will cover 115 km of the Estonian-Russian border.

The is 338.6 km long in total and 135 km of it is located on land, in difficult terrain and forested area, while 76 km is in the Narva River and 127 km runs through Lake Peipsi.

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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