The Estonian government summoned 1,700 reserve soldiers on Wednesday for an unannounced exercise which will include installing a razor wire barrier along 40 km of its border with Russia, as the migration crisis in nearby Belarus continued.
The EU has accused Belarus of flying in thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa and pushing them to cross into EU and NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for sanctions already imposed on Minsk. Belarus has denied deliberately fomenting the crisis.
The EU neighbours of Belarus, which is a close Russian ally, have warned that the crisis could lead to a military clash, and have declared states of emergency and deployed military forces near their borders.
Estonia has a similar geopolitical history to Lithuania and Latvia, although it has no border with Belarus.
The snap exercise is scheduled to last until 25 November and was called to test rapid response of the national chain of command, the Estonian government said.
The reserve solders will help install 40 km of razor wire in places along Russian border, where risks of illegal crossings are highest, Estonian police and border guard said in a statement.
The entire border between the two countries is almost 300 kilometres long.
“What is happening in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia also requires the strengthening of the border infrastructure in Estonia,” said chief of Police and Border Guard Elmar Vaher.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies