Estonia is sending soldiers to help Poland secure its border against an onslaught of Middle Eastern migrants attempting to break into the European Union via Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus.
“In the past, they wanted just political support, but now they need practical help. As far as I know, only Britain has provided practical assistance to Poland so far,” said the Baltic state’s defence minister, Kalle Laanet, in reference to an agreement between the NATO allies to deploy an approximately 150-strong force of Royal Engineers to help maintain Polish border fortifications and road infrastructure in the crisis zone.
According to a report on the website of publicly-funded radio and television network Estonian Public Broadcasting (Eesti Rahvusringhääling, or ERR), the “practical help” the nation of roughly 1.3 million people is extending to Poland will include “a combat engineer platoon made up of both active-duty personnel and reservists, as well as a military police unit consisting of active-duty personnel and conscripts”.
In a post shared on social media, Estonia’s defence ministry similarly described the planned force as “troops inc[luding] reservists from Engineer, Military Police and Reconnaissance units” who will help the Poles secure the European Union’s common external border “against the ongoing #hybridattack of [the] #Belarusian regime.”
Estonia has already sent personnel to assist border protection in Lithuania, which was the first EU member-state struck by the Lukashenko-engineered migrant crisis in earnest before its focus shifted chiefly to neighbouring Poland.
Solidarity with our ally #Poland is crucial at this time: @Kaitsevagi will send troops incl. reservists from Engineer, Military Police and Reconnaissance units to support 🇵🇱 efforts to secure 🇺 borders against the ongoing #hybridattack of 🇾 #Belarusian regime. #WeAreAllies pic.twitter.com/p0vOTS7Eey
— MoD Estonia (@MoD_Estonia) November 19, 2021
Unlike its fellow Baltic States, Lithuania and Latvia, Estonia does not share a land border with Belarus — but it does share a substantial border with the Russian Federation, which is widely regarded as Belarus’s chief sponsor.
Estonia has therefore deployed some 1,700 troops to erect an emergency razorwire barrier along 40 kilometres (25 miles) of its Russian frontier, where the chances of illegal crossings are believed to be highest.
“What is happening in Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia also requires the strengthening of the border infrastructure in Estonia,” said Elmar Vaher, chief of the country’s Police and Border Guard, in comments quoted by Reuters.