Russia removes light buoys from border river with Estonia – Politics

The Estonian border police accuse Russia of removing more than 20 light buoys from the border river Narva during the night of Thursday. According to a statement from the Estonian authorities The buoys were used to mark the routes for shipping. The Director General of the authority, Egert Belitšew, spoke to journalists on Thursday afternoon about a “obvious provocation”. The Estonian border guards did not intervene that night to avoid an escalation. He advises all citizens to be as careful as possible and not to enter Russian territory.

Eerik Purgel, the border guard responsible for eastern Estonia, said that the Russian border guards would be contacted to find out more about the background to the action “and the return of the buoys.” Estonia has been a member of the European Union and the NATO defense alliance since 2004 and has a border with Russia that is almost 300 kilometers long.

Russia has been provoking Estonia for years

In Tallinn, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also said at a press conference that the exact circumstances must be clarified. “We will look at this case soberly and in a balanced manner and, if necessary, consult with our allies,” she said. It fits in with similar Russian actions and is an attempt to spread fear. Around 20 percent of the Estonian population is Russian-speaking.

Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said, according to Estonian Radio, this event must be approached “very calmly” because Russia is behaving very provocatively. Similar border incidents have occurred again and again in recent years, with Russia regularly violating Estonia’s airspace. Like the airspace of Latvia and Lithuania, this is monitored by NATO partners since the Baltic republics do not have their own combat aircraft.

One reason for Estonian concerns may be the timing of the incident. Because shortly before the buoys were removed, the Russian news agency Tass and the Moscow Times reports that the Russian Defense Ministry intends to move the borders within the Baltic Sea. Both Tass and Moscow Times referred to a draft in Portal for legal acts of the Russian government, but this was initially not evident in countries such as Germany, Sweden or Finland.

According to the Tass report, “the width of the mainland coast and Baltic Sea islands should be defined and the border line changed in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region.” According to the Reuters news agency, the ministry cited cartographic inaccuracies in a measurement taken in 1985, during the Soviet era. These are not in accordance with the current cartographic coordinates. On Wednesday afternoon it was announced that the draft had been taken down from the documentation portal and, according to Reuters, “deleted”.

Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine there were no disputes

In Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that the reports indicated “provocation and uncertainty” that Russian politics was using as a means. There were still many uncertainties. “But the basic principle is that such demarcations cannot be made unilaterally, but would first require an agreement between the neighboring states concerned,” she said, according to Reuters.

According to the Estonian Border Guard Agency, the bed of the Narva River is changing so that the markings for shipping traffic are checked every spring. Before the start of the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the buoys were installed “largely by mutual agreement”.

In 2023, Russia no longer agreed with the “Estonian position regarding the locations of the buoys.” Estonia nevertheless installed the buoys as it did in 2022 so that Estonian fishermen or recreational sports enthusiasts do not accidentally end up in Russian waters, said border guard Purgel.

This year, Russia said it disagreed with the positioning of about half of the 250 measurement marks, the Estonian statement said. On May 13th, Estonia installed the first 50 light buoys in the Narva in the places that both sides had agreed on in 2022. “The Estonian border guard now expects Russia to provide evidence that the previously agreed shipping route has changed,” said Eerik Purgel. If no evidence is presented, Estonia will continue installing buoys.

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