Estonian police unit concludes work on Latvia-Belarus border

Photo: Gints Ivuskans

The fourth ESTPOL8 team of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board completed its mission on the Latvia-Belarus border on Wednesday.

The Police and Border Guard Board is not sending a new rotation to Latvia as the migration pressure on the border has abated and the Latvian border guards no longer require the assistance of the Estonian police unit, according to the Police and Border Guard's press officer.

In recent weeks, the situation on the Latvia-Belarus border has stabilized, and the number of unlawful border crossings has decreased. A month ago, more than a hundred people were prevented from entering the European Union in Latvia every day. This number has now halved, with an average of about 50 undocumented migration attempts registered per day.

Head of the Border Guard Veiko Kommusaar said that his Latvian colleagues have announced that due to the decrease in migration pressure, they no longer need the assistance of the Estonian unit on the Latvia-Belarus border.

«This means that instead of sending a new team to replace the fourth ESTPOL8 rotation, which completed its mission on Wednesday, the Police and Border Guard Board will not send additional support to our southern neighbors. We continue to communicate regularly with our partners and keep a close eye on what is happening at the borders of neighboring countries. If needed, the the Police and Border Guard Board is ready to send a police unit to assist our allies in the future,» Kommusaar said.

«Migration pressure is also increasing on Finland's borders, similarly to what the countries to our south have experienced. The situation on Estonia's borders is currently calm, and so far, we have not observed illegal migration pressure either at border crossing points or in the areas between them. Of course, we are very closely monitoring the situation on our borders and are ready to respond if necessary, and to send back anyone who has no business being here,» the head of the Border Guard said.

Reet Zeisig, head of the International Cooperation Bureau of the Police and Border Guard Board, thanked all members of the ESTPOL8 teams who have helped ensure security in the region while assisting Estonia's southern neighbors.

The Police and Border Guard Board assisted the Latvian Border Guard from Sept. 20 to Nov. 15 with the ESTPOL8 police units. The teams' task was to participate in land patrols on the Latvian border, conduct drone surveillance, and monitor the situation. Over eight weeks, the police units helped prevent over 900 undocumented border crossings. During the four rotations, Estonia supported its southern neighbors on the Latvia-Belarus border with 48 people and seven dogs. The teams consisted of officers from various prefectures and units.

Previously, Estonia supported Lithuania in 2021 with ESTPOL5 teams to cope with the migration pressure from Belarus, and in the summer of 2023 with the ESTPOL7 police unit during the NATO summit in Vilnius.