State to establish road to bypass Saatse Boot in SE Estonia

Photo: Arvo Meeks

Estonia is planning to establish a road to bypass the so-called Saatse Boot, located on the Estonian-Russian control line in southeastern Estonia, because Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets believes that it is important to do so to ensure people's safety in the future.

According to the minister, the design of the Saatse Boot bypass should start next year and the road should be ready in 2026. The construction will cost approximately 2.6 million euros.

Currently, the road passes through Russia, and future relations between the two countries and the situation in Europe are uncertain.

«It would be reasonable to build a road along which one could drive around the Saatse Boot in as small a loop as possible, this would allow preventing possible incidents in the future,» Laanemets said. «So far, there have been no problems on the road section, but if something happens in three or four years, it will be too late to start building this road.»

The so-called Saatse Boot is a boot-shaped protrusion of the Russian border that cuts 800 meters across the Varska-Saatse road. Everyone on the road ends up on the territory of the Russian Federation for a while. This is a border area that can be crossed by car or bicycle without stopping.

The current road will remain usable until the new one is built.

«There is an agreement with Russia for using this road,» Laanemets said. «Nobody is allowed to walk there or stop when driving, but people can move.»

In addition to the construction of the road, it is planned to build the border infrastructure of the small and large Saatse Boot. According to Laanemets, the plots of land were intended for exchange with Russia according to the border agreement, but the current government has no such plan.

The design of the border fence will start already this year and it should be ready in 2025 or 2026. However, according to the interior minister, everything depends on the government's decisions. The border fence will cost a total of three to five million euros.

«Since we have managed to build some sections of the border fence at a cheaper price, we have already designed the so-called big Saatse Boot with the remaining money and are ready to build a fence there as well,» Laanemets said. «However, for some things, such as monitoring equipment, the previous balances were not enough, more money is needed there.»