Construction has ended on the second section of Estonia's eastern border, a 40-kilometer stretch in the southeast of the country.
This part of the border ran through hilly and sometimes very swampy terrain between Luhamaa and Võmmorski, Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported. It has brought big changes to the area and 121 new border posts have been installed.
"To be quite honest, there were also places where border guards who had been working for years did not know exactly where the border was," Paavo Mikson, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) Piusa border guard station, told AK.
This section of the border includes the area where Internal Security Service officer Eston Kohver was abducted by Russian border guards in 2014. Discussions about the need for a border began after this incident.
A large part of the Estonian-Russian control line is a "green border", defined as weakly protected sections of the national border usually covered with vegetation, such as forests.
But a lot of work still lies ahead, AK reported.
"Upstream, closer to Lake Peipsi, construction work is also about to start. The following sections are coming up now – the design work is also finished, we are in the construction phase. And it is expected that this contract will be signed early next year," said Egert Belitšev, PPA general director.
The decision has also been made to construct the border on areas that would have been affected by the ratification of the Estonian-Russian border agreement, which has still not been signed by both sides. The Estonians believe the likelihood of doing so is decreasing.
Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said: "Now, as far as Saatse Boot is concerned, we have already made the decision, the money, and preparations are being made there. And then we've got two more sections where I think we're going to have to make a decision in principle that we're going to do those sections, because they're sort of waiting for construction right now and they don't have that planned."
Monitoring equipment is yet to be installed on the new stretch of border and should have been in place in the autumn. Additionally, the need for drone surveillance and detection technology has emerged as a new challenge.
"The technical side of most of the border should also be ready by the end of 2025. And when it comes to drone detection and surveillance and drone countermeasures, it's a little over €10 million. But let's put it this way, in the next 10 years, I think we should do it," Läänemets said.
So far, just over 60 kilometers of the Estonian-Russian control line has been built. The first section was completed in 2022.
Border construction started in 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2025. It will cover 115 km of the Estonian-Russian border.
Estonia's eastern border totals 338.6 kilometers, of which 135 km is located on land in difficult terrain and forested area, 76 km is in the Narva River, and 127 km runs through Lake Peipsi.
Editor: Helen Wright