Baltic countries, Poland to counter Russia's hybrid attacks together

  • 2023-08-29
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia's Minister of the Interior Lauri Laanemets met with his Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish counterparts in Warsaw on Monday to discuss the situation on the countries' borders with Belarus and the Russian Federation, as well as possibilities for cooperation in containing future provocations and a common response capability to them.

The interior ministers of the three Baltic countries and Poland adopted a joint declaration, in which they agreed on the common goal of standing up to border incidents organized by Russia and Belarus.

"Our aim now is to agree on criteria and common actions based on them, in which cases the national governments must jointly respond in the event of attacks by Belarus. The goal is to use the same model also on the borders with Russia, but this definitely requires joint discussions and agreements with Finland as well," Laanemets said in a press release.

He said that although Estonia does not have a direct external border with Belarus, the neighboring countries will be fully supported in their efforts to counter hybrid attacks by Belarus.

"In the event of an escalation of the situation at the Schengen external border, Estonia is ready to react swiftly and send assistance to prevent and, if necessary, block mass immigration," the Estonian minister said.

He added that, if necessary, Estonia is ready to close crossing points on its border with the Russian Federation in solidarity with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Laanemets also stressed the importance of the infrastructure and surveillance equipment on the external border as a preventive measure against organized mass immigration. The European Union is also contributing to the construction of the land border -- primarily in the procurement of surveillance equipment such as drones, drone detection systems, land and water craft, cameras, radars and binoculars, and the construction of a surveillance system -- from the internal security policy funds, and Estonia continues to stand for the allocation of additional funds.

"This is important, because guarding and protecting the external border of the European Union is in the interest of all member states and an additional burden on the countries guarding the Schengen external border," Laanemets said.

The joint statement by the ministers adopted on Monday stresses, among other things, that the artificial migration route through Belarus allows Russia to make further attempts to destabilize the region and the European Union as a whole.

In addition to the Estonian minister, the meeting was attended by Veiko Kommusaar, deputy director general of the Police and Border Guard for border guard, and Miko Haljas, the Estonian ambassador to Poland.