Another provocation? Russian border guards removed markers from Estonian waters

23.05.2024 15:20
Kairi Saar

On Thursday, May 23, Russian border guards removed 24 buoys from the Narva River, which Estonia's Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) had installed to mark shipping lanes. These buoys helped prevent ships from straying into the wrong waters and have been a longstanding feature of the river, writes Delfi news portal

Eerik Purgel, head of the PPA's Eastern Prefecture, stated that Russia has not provided an explanation for their action. The PPA plans to seek clarification from Russia and expects evidence if Russia believes the shipping route has changed. If no such evidence is provided, Estonia will continue to install the buoys.

The Estonian government, including Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, is seeking to understand the situation. They intend to handle the matter calmly and consult with allies, noting that this fits a pattern of provocative Russian behavior, which includes previous airspace violations. The government emphasizes the importance of these markers for safe navigation, especially for local fishermen and hobbyists, to prevent accidental entry into Russian waters.

Estonia's Interior Minister, Lauri Läänemets, addressed a recent incident on social media. Läänemets described the event as another attempt to influence Estonia's internal security. He wrote that such systematic actions are meant to shape public sentiment and create a foundation for conflicts. Estonia does not share Russia's geopolitical vision and expects such attempts to continue.
He urged not to fall into the trap of fear and confusion that these actions aim to create, as Estonia is familiar with this pattern from its eastern neighbor.

Läänemets assured that Estonia maintains a high level of security and the state is always ready to take preventive and responsive measures. He emphasized that internal security is an ongoing concern, with the country actively countering threats and influence activities.
He concluded by stating that budget cuts should not reduce national defense or internal security capabilities. Instead, Estonia, and Europe as a whole, should be prepared to increase resources for law enforcement agencies if necessary.

Estonia had placed these markers according to an agreement with Russia in 2022. However, this year, Russia has contested the placement of about 125 of the 250 buoys. The removal included some of the disputed markers.

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