Estonia vows ′to wall off′ Russia | News | DW | 27.08.2015
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Estonia vows 'to wall off' Russia

The Baltic state has said it plans to fence its eastern border with the Russian Federation. The country, once occupied by the Soviet Union, says the multi-million euro project would defend the EU's external borders.

Estonia said this week that it plans to erect barriers along most of its 110-kilometer (70-mile) frontier with Russia. Interior ministry spokesman Toomas Viks said the project has been contemplated since last year.

"The aim of the construction is to cover the land border with 100 percent, around-the-clock technical surveillance to create ideal conditions for border guarding and to ensure the security of Estonia and the Schengen area," Viks said Thursday, the AFP news agency reported.

The Estonian newspaper Postimees, citing government sources, says that technical work would begin in 2018 and cost an estimated 71 million euro ($79.6 million dollars).

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania lived under five decades of Soviet occupation until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The three small nations moved quickly to join NATO and the European Union. Tensions with Moscow remain, especially following events in Ukraine with Russia-backed separatists fighting the central government.

Estonia's interior ministry says the 2.5-meter (eight-foot) high barbed-wire fence would span most of the border except for some wetlands that would be fence-free. And officials promised it would be state-of-the-art.

"The information gathered by the technology can be used as evidence in cases of cross-border crime, be it illegal border crossing, smuggling (or) human trafficking," Viks told AFP.

US to deploy heavy arms to Poland

This file photo from March 20, 2015 shows US tanks loaded on a German freight train for military maneuvers in Eastern Europe.

This file photo from March 20, 2015 shows US tanks loaded on a German freight train for military maneuvers in Eastern Europe.

The news comes as Poland announces the US would store heavy military equipment at two unnamed sites as part of a strategy of reinforcing NATO allies as relations with Russia suffer a post-war low.

"Following reconnaissance, after talks with American partners, two sites have been selected to store heavy equipment of the US military - one in western Poland, and one in north-eastern Poland," Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told state press agency PAP on Thursday.

"We foresee that the pre-positioning will take place in mid-2016."

The development would mark the first time Washington has deployed heavy military equipment in a former Eastern bloc nation, now part of the expanded NATO military alliance. This comes despite warnings that deploying heavy weapons in eastern European could trigger a new conventional arms race with Moscow.

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jar/jil (AFP, Reuters, Postimees)