Baltic countries planning to cover eastern border with 'drone wall'

  • 2024-05-24
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - As part of their two-day visit to Latvia, Estonia's Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets and Deputy Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board Veiko Kommusaar briefed the interior ministers of neighboring countries about a plan to create a capability to detect and bring down drones on the borders with Russia and Belarus and over major cities.

Laanemets said in a press release that the plan presented to the ministers calls for covering the entire eastern border with technology capable of detecting and bringing down drones. It would also be necessary to introduce this capability in and around major cities.

"As a venture of this scale, it's unique. Drone surveillance and anti-drone capability is crucial both for deterrence and for countering the influence activities of our eastern neighbor," the minister said.

The minister said that, unfortunately, we must be increasingly prepared for situations where Russia will try to disrupt our lives using drones, as it is becoming more and more difficult to physically access Estonian territory.

"As we see in the case of Ukraine, there is a constant race between the adversaries to develop technology, and new ways to use drones are continually being found in warfare. The same applies to the various drones available to individuals. The one who is even a step ahead of the adversary will succeed, but this advantage can be measured in days, as a countermeasure will be found to each measure very quickly and the cycle will repeat itself," he said, adding that even the smallest drones have already proven themselves as reconnaissance and assault weapons.

Kommusaar said that from the point of view of the police, it is important to cover the entire eastern border and our major cities with stationary drone surveillance and control capabilities.

"In order to ensure the safety of our people, it is necessary that the Estonian state is able, at any moment, to detect drones flying over us and also bring them down if necessary," he noted.

"Drones are in daily use today by smugglers, and we know from foreign experience that drones have been used in densely populated areas to commit crimes, prepare them, and also to gather information about residents and critical infrastructure," the official explained.

"The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, together with partner agencies, has prepared a plan to install drone detection and control equipment along the eastern border and in larger cities. In addition to stationary capabilities, the use of mobile drone monitoring and control technologies by various units of the Police and Border Guard Board as needed would continue in the future," the deputy national police chief said.

The Estonian minister of the interior is in Riga for a meeting of the interior ministers of the Baltic countries, Poland, Finland, Norway and Ukraine, aimed to increase cooperation in the context of the current security situation in Europe. This time the focus is on the security situation in the region, including border security and civil protection.

"Russia and Belarus will continue to do everything to disrupt the internal security of their neighbors, and it is our duty to stand together against this. In a timely and proportionate manner," Laanemets said.

"We emphasize that to combat instrumentalized migration, a separate legal solution is necessary within European Union law. The external border protects the entire European Union, and it must be additionally funded using EU resources," he added.

The ministers agreed that the countries will promptly assist each other in the event of a migration attack or other hybrid attacks, both with technology and with officials.

Additionally, the ministers reaffirmed their continued support for Ukraine and acknowledged that our civil protection capabilities also need to be improved, including shelters, operational continuity, and international cooperation in civil protection.