New hybrid attack scheme - Russia tries to flood Estonian borders with Somali citizens

16.11.2023 19:05
Heidi Saar

Estonian minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets reported that on Thursday morning, Somali citizens attempted to enter Estonia from Russia without the necessary Schengen Area entry rights. This incident coincides with an increased "migration pressure" from Russia on the Finnish border.

Läänemets mentioned the history of orchestrated migration pressure at the borders of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. He emphasized the recent surge in migration pressure exerted by Russia on the Finnish border. Refugees without Schengen entry rights are being sent to border crossing points, a practice Läänemets criticized. He stated that Russia should not permit individuals without a visa or legal basis to enter Europe. However, Russian authorities are allowing people through, who then apply for international protection.

Estonia, according to Läänemets, has been vigilant. Eight Somali citizens attempted to enter Estonia from Narva without a Schengen visa or residence permit. They were issued an entry ban and directed back to the Russian Federation side. Läänemets highlighted the need for processing applications for international protection.

While additional sightings of people at Russian border checkpoints hint at potential similar attempts, the situation remains unchanged. The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) are effectively managing small-scale manifestations of migratory pressure. Läänemets expressed skepticism that the Somali citizens acted independently and stressed the message that entering the EU through Estonia without proper rights is unacceptable. Estonia is coordinating actions with Finland, considering the closure of its southern border crossing points.

The PPA disclosed a plan for handling mass illegal migration from Russia, and last year, Estonia legalized migrant pushbacks in emergency situations following increased crossings on neighboring borders. Läänemets categorized the situation as a hybrid attack with the aim of destabilizing society. He acknowledged the possibility of closing certain border crossing points in response. The objective is to cause concern, fear, and reduce trust in government institutions, but Läänemets affirmed decisive action.

While Russia has not attempted such operations across Estonia's green borders, Läänemets highlighted Estonia's preparation through assistance to other countries and emphasized the readiness to respond decisively if the situation escalates.

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