Estonia to send 100 troops to Poland to help counter hybrid aggression

Estonia has decided to send about 100 Estonian Defense Forces troops to Poland in support of countering hybrid aggression.

“Solidarity with our close ally Poland is crucial at this time to support its efforts to secure European Union borders against the ongoing hybrid attack of Belarusian regime,” the Estonian defence minister, Kalle Laanet, said in a statement.

The Defence Forces will be sending troops including reservists from Engineer, Military Police, Reconnaissance units and combat camera teams.

The units are ready to go to Poland as soon as the week of 22 November.

The deployment comes amid the 2021 Belarus-European Union border crisis that started in the summer when the Belarusian regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, enraged by the EU sanctions against his regime, threatened to introduce human traffickers, drug smugglers and armed migrants to Europe.

Estonia to build temporary fences on its border with Russia

Subsequently, the Belarusian authorities and state-controlled tourist enterprises, together with some airlines operating in the Middle East, started to promote tours to Belarus, giving those who bought them Belarusian visas, and offering fraudulent advice on the rules of crossing the country’s border with the EU.

The routes of migration from the Middle East to Belarus during the 2021 Belarus–European Union border crisis. Map by Homoatrox, shared under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 licence.

Those who arrived in Belarus were then given instructions about how and where to trespass the EU border and what to tell the border guards on the other side. The migrants were often guided by the guards up until the border and were often also provided with wire cutters and axes to cut through border fences and enter the EU.

Since then, the crisis has escalated greatly and Poland, for example, currently employs 15,000 soldiers to defend the country’s border with Belarus. Across the border, on the Belarusian side, thousands of people – mainly from Iraq, Syria and Yemen – are still hoping to cross to the EU’s side.

A truck belonging to the Estonian Defence Forces transporting barbed wire on 18 November 2021. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

Due to the crisis, the Estonian government on 17 November called almost 1,700 reserve soldiers to hold a snap defence readiness exercise. The reserve engineers will construct temporary fences in Estonia’s border areas with Russia, as the Belarus–European Union border crisis escalates.

Cover: A group of Estonian soldiers on a training exercise. The image is illustrative. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

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