ESTONIA ‘PLANS BORDER FENCE’ AMID UKRAINE TENSION

BBC News on August 28, 2015, reported that Estonia wants to build a fence along its eastern border with Russia to boost security and protect the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone. Excerpts below:
Construction on the fence, planned to be about 110km (70 miles) long and 2.5m (8ft) high, is set to start in 2018.

It is expected to cost about €71m (£52m; $80m), according to reports.

The plans come amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict. Europe is also struggling with an influx of migrants.

“The aim of the construction is to cover the land border with 100%, around-the-clock technical surveillance to create ideal conditions for border guarding and to ensure the security of Estonia and the Schengen area,” interior ministry spokesman Toomas Viks told AFP news agency.

He said information gathered could be used to investigate illegal border crossing, smuggling and human trafficking.

The fence would only cover just over a third of Estonia’s 294km (183 miles) border with Russia as much of it is covered by water, Estonia’s Postimees newspaper reports.

The former Soviet nation is among the EU member states to have borders on the external boundaries of the Schengen zone, which was enables passport-free travel.

Another such country, Hungary, has already started building a 175km-long fence along its border with Serbia to try to keep migrants out. Officials say thousands of people cross into the country every day as they head north into Europe and Germany in particular.

However the focus of the migrants crisis in recent months has been in the Western Balkans, rather than Estonia. Migrants have also continued to make the perilous crossing to Europe via the Mediterranean from Libya.

Earlier in August 2015 Russia jailed Estonian security official Eston Kohver to 15 years in prison for spying in a case that provoked a diplomatic row.

Kohver was detained at the Russian border last September, with Estonia and the EU insisting he was on Estonian soil…
Estonia joined Nato and the EU in 2004.

Comment: The planned Estonian fence is on the land border with Russia is a wise decision. Eston Kohver was obviously kidnapped on Estonian territory. A fence can help Estonia to protect its border. Should Russia decide on a military incursion similar to the one in eastern Ukraine technical surveillance by Tallinn means a quicker sounding of alarm. As in the Ukraine case the Kremlin could claim that it is acting to protect a Russian minority in Estonia.

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