Poland to tighten controls on Belarus border as Estonia warns of Russian threat to eastern Europe

After Poland’s premier Donald Tusk announced last week his country would further seal and strengthen its border with Belarus to improve intra-European and common security, Estonia’s ambassador to Poland has warned of the dangers of underestimating Russia’s intentions.

Miko Haljas told Euronews that according to Estonian foreign intelligence, Russia is likely to reorganise its military capabilities in three to four years, and added that it is essential Europe supports Ukraine to defeat Russia’s war of aggression.

“If we can help Ukraine enough so that they will win, then we also change Russia’s plans, and from there, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. We have assumed this sort of leadership role so we have to be the ones who are also trying to inspire others so that they can also move with the speed of relevance” he said.

Agnieszka Legucka, an expert on Russia from the Polish Institute of International Affairs, told Euronews that Moscow is spreading disinformation about eastern NATO members to boost support for military mobilisation.

“Russia maintains that Poland has imperial ambitions, and Poland would like to occupy, for example, part of Ukraine or part of Belarus, which has somewhat convinced the public [Russian and Belarusian citizens] that Russia and Belarus need to have a bigger army,” she said.

Estonia and Poland both share borders with Russia, while Poland also borders Ukraine – as well as Belarus, with whom it shares a 418km border. A full 186km of the frontier is fortified with a fence, which was erected to separate the two countries at a cost of more than €350 million.

Tusk advised last week that both Poland and Finland want to cooperate with other nations to strengthen their borders and defences.

Tusk, who returned to power in Poland last month, is keen to show that a change of government doesn’t mean a change of policy on Ukraine.

Poland recently joined the so-called “military Schengen” agreement, a European initiative aimed at streamlining troop mobility across participating states.

The agreement, also signed by Germany and the Netherlands, is both a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine and a concrete step towards better European security.

Andrzej Szejna, the Polish deputy minister of Foreign Affairs told Euronews that Poland was proposing a perimeter control system on the border with Belarus complete with rotating cameras to monitor migrants’ movements.

EU leaders have long accused Russia and Belarus of facilitating illegal migration across its borders as a tactic of “hybrid warfare”.

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