It will be expensive. Estonia is building a fence on the border with the Russian Federation

It will be expensive. Estonia is building a fence on the border with the Russian Federation

Nikolay Nikolaev

Recently, the Estonian media reported that 130 kilometers of barbed wire would be laid along the border line with Russia. This sounds, frankly, somewhat strange, because tens of millions of euros have already been spent on strengthening the eastern borders of the republic in recent years.
The government structures responsible for the security of external borders, back in 2015, announced that they were going to build a 2.5-meter-high fence along the entire perimeter of the land border with Russia.
Also, video cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles will be used to guard the border (at least as planned), and more than 600 border buoys are deployed in the water area of Lake Peipsi. In addition to the border strip, a patrol track two meters wide and a control and trail strip up to eight meters wide were to be equipped. Animal barriers, barriers, border posts, warning signs and lighting may already be in place.
For crossing rivers and streams, as well as moving through wetlands, bridges and walkways were going to be built for border patrols. Depending on the characteristics of the border sections, if necessary, other additional security elements had to be installed. Estonia intended to complete the main construction of the border with Russia in the year of the 100th anniversary of the state’s independence, that is, by 2018.
Initially, the cost of all work was estimated at 71 million euros. Years passed, and this figure grew, grew and grew to 320 million euros (this is exactly what the contractors wanted to receive from the state). The State Control, in a duet with the Minister of Finance, stated that 320 million is somehow a lot and, of course, it is possible and necessary to build, but the money for which businessmen have already inflamed the appetite is not and will not be. How the allocated funds were used, what was built and what was not – history is silent. However, judging by the new project, not everything has been built and only 130 kilometers of barbed wire will “save the country’s security.”
But there is one hitch in this, as they say. The point is that the demarcation of the border, carried out unilaterally (and this is what is happening now), in accordance with the norms of international law, has no legal value for the neighboring state.
In accordance with the Russian-Estonian border agreement signed in Moscow on February 18, 2014, the parties must first form a joint demarcation commission, which should mark 138 km of the border on land, and install buoys on the water and designate shipping routes.
In this case, the state border is considered finally demarcated after the approval of the government of each of the parties of the relevant demarcation documents. But that’s not all: all these works can be started only after the entry into force of the treaty, that is, after the ratification of the document by the parliaments of both countries. And this is now very problematic.
So while Estonia is unilaterally building a wall instead of mending relations, Moscow is left to stand aside and watch, waiting only for the right moment to make a decision that will not cost it a dime. But it will cost dearly for Estonians.

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