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MP: Estonia could mine its border

Deputy Chairman of the Riigikogu's National Defense Committee Leo Kunnas (EKRE) said the use of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines is important when defending the border. Estonia should also start domestically producing military explosives.

Kunnas, a colonel and reservist, told ERR three conditions are needed to construct protective facilities on the border.

"The first thing we should do is replace the stockpiles of ordnance and mines that we gave away to Ukraine. For example, we gave away a very large quantity of anti-tank mines. We need to replace them immediately and then get more mines, more explosives, and more ordnance," he said.

The MP said the next step would be to leave the Ottawa Treaty that bans the use of anti-personnel landmines. All three Baltic states have signed the agreement.

"We recently had a visit from the U.S. Ambassador to the National Defense Committee, and I asked him about this attitude because the United States of America is not a party to the Ottawa Convention. The ambassador said very simply that the United States cannot join this convention because on the Korean peninsula, there are American troops alongside South Korean troops ready to repel North Korean aggression, the depth of the defenses is so shallow that without anti-personnel mines it is not possible to maintain those defenses," Kunnas said. "And the Baltic States are known to have even less depth than South Korea."

Kunnas explained barriers consist of several parts. These include physical barriers, for example, so-called dragons' teeth, anti-tank mines, and anti-personnel mines. Additionally, he said all this needs to be protected by the defense forces, and placed in suitable places.

Dragons' teeth on the Estonian-Russian border in Narva in December 2023. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

Thirdly, Kunnas believes Estonia should start domestically producing explosives for military purposes, which could be used in anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, mortar mines, and also in the production of artillery shells.

"This production capacity would be important for us, because the quantities are also very large. Once we have done these things, we can start talking about the fact that we could start seriously building defense facilities," the MP said.

In peacetime, it is possible to plan for the future, such as how key bridges can be blown up, and to stock up on physical barriers so they can be erected quickly before situations have the chance to escalate, Kunnas told ERR.

He also considers it possible to build permanent concrete fortifications such as bunkers at key locations. 

"It is actually possible to do all of this, and both warring parties are doing it intensively in Ukraine," Kunnas said.

"The war in Ukraine has shown that even though satellite images and drones monitor the terrain with an accuracy of one meter, the warring parties still do not manage to destroy these permanent fortifications so easily," he noted.

Baltic presidents will discuss border defenses next week, President Alar Karis said after a meeting of the National Defense Council on Monday.

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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