Estonian police strengthen control around the Latvian border

The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board is strengthening border control around the Estonian-Latvian border area and in ports in order to prevent illegal border crossings in the event of increased migratory pressure towards Estonia.

“I spoke to the Latvian interior minister today, with whom we have maintained regular contact in the light of the events in Lithuania. Given that in the last 24 hours border guards have detained 28 people who crossed the Belarus-Latvia border illegally, we will also strengthen control in border areas of Estonia. At present, however, there is no migratory pressure on Estonia,” Kristian Jaani, the Estonian interior minister, said in a statement.

According to Ivo Utsar, the police colonel of the border management department at the Police and Border Guard Board, it was decided to further strengthen border control when assessing what was happening in Latvia.

“The main focus of the Police and Border Guard Board is at internal borders, but random checks are carried out by patrols across Estonia. We carry out in-depth inspections in ports, as we cannot rule out the possibility that irregular migrants are trying to find their way to northern Europe through Estonia,” Utsar said in a statement.

An Estonian border marking. Photo by Sven Soiver/TV3.

Report suspicious activity to 112

“In addition, we also directed additional patrols to the Estonian-Latvian border areas. For people moving around in the region, this means police officers check more often people’s documents as well as passenger cars, buses, heavy trucks moving in border areas and so on.”

Utsar added that if someone notices a group of people with a foreign appearance in the border area, and there is reason to suspect they are irregular migrants, this should be reported to 112.

“The Police and Border Guard Board is constantly monitoring the situation at the Estonian border in order to notice changes that could indicate a potential risk of irregular migration. “As the situation changes, we are ready to take additional measures to further strengthen the protection of the Estonian border, if necessary,” Utsar noted.

In the recent months, Belarus has been ferrying in migrants from the Middle East, most notably from Iraq, and trying to send them across the Belarusian-Lithuanian, Belarusian-Latvian and Belarusian-Polish border in order to pressure the European Union to reverse sanctions on the country.

A Lithuanian marking on the Belarus-Lithuania border. Photo by Aidas U., shared under the Creative Commons CC BY 3.0 licence.

A Belarusian retaliation for sanctions

In the recent months, over 4,000 migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus – most form Iraq. After Lithuania tightened its border and Iraq suspended flights to Minsk, the Lukashenka regime has been sending migrants from Syria and African countries towards Poland and Latvia.

The Belarusian dictator, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has said that Belarus would retaliate when hit and that Western countries should not use sanctions against his country. The Western countries imposed the sanctions after the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus in 2020 that was rigged to let Lukashenka – known as the last dictator in Europe – win.

Alexander Lukashenko. Photo by Kremlin.ru, shared under the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 licence.

Poland and Lithuania have called on European institutions to help them deal with migration. European Union home affairs ministers will discuss the issue at an extraordinary meeting on 18 August.

The US, the UK and Canada have tightened sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime as a response to what the US president, Joe Biden, called an “illegitimate effort to hold on to power at any price”.

Cover: The border between Estonia and Latvia in the twin town of Valga/Valka. Photo by Vesahjr, shared under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

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