President: Estonia ready for Russian-induced migration pressure at eastern border

President Alar Karis during his visit to the Narva border checkpoint on Thursday morning.
President Alar Karis during his visit to the Narva border checkpoint on Thursday morning. Photo: Presidendi kantselei

During his visit to the Narva border checkpoint on Thursday morning, President Alar Karis affirmed that Estonia is ready for any attempts by Russia to use migrants in creating instability at Estonia's eastern border, a move that would test the nation's response and border security capabilities.

«The Police and Border Guard Board assures that Estonia's response to this will be immediate and vigorous,» said Karis.

In recent weeks, several groups of irregular migrants have attempted to enter the European Union through the northeastern Estonian border city of Narva.

«The Russian border service -- which completely controls the situation in its border zone -- allowing citizens of third countries without necessary travel documents to cross into Estonia creates an impression of a coordinated and deliberate attack targeting the European Union,» Karis said. «We saw the same pattern recently in Finland and earlier against Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia at the Belarusian border, where migrants were also used for hybrid attacks.»

«I want everyone who are testing the strength of the European Union and NATO's external border in Estonia to understand -- this border is strong, it is under our control, and we will not allow migration pressure to be used against us. If Russian authorities send groups of migrants to our border, I feel sorry for these people because they are simply being exploited, but they will not be permitted to enter the European Union this way,» the president underscored.

The Police and Border Guard Board, along with partners including the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps, have the necessary risk scenarios, threat assessments, equipment, and rehearsed action plans to respond to both migration pressure and attacks. Estonia also has practical experience from its previous support missions in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Should the situation escalate, the European Union's Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex is prepared to support Estonia with its rapid reaction units.