TechEstonia's first line of defense: 600 concrete bunkers to face possible Russian aggression

Estonia's first line of defense: 600 concrete bunkers to face possible Russian aggression

Visually: combat shelter in Ruda Śląska
Visually: combat shelter in Ruda Śląska
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons
4:51 AM EST, January 20, 2024, updated: 5:26 AM EST, January 20, 2024

Estonia plans to erect fortifications in the form of 600 concrete bunkers, along with other alleviative measures on its eastern frontier. Defense ministers from the Baltic nations, during their meeting in Riga, decided that NATO's eastern flank, delineated by the borders of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, should be fortressed to give allied troops more time to react in the event of Russia's aggressive maneuvers in the area. The other two countries also plan to establish fortifications, but Estonia is the first to announce a detailed fortification plan. They have pronounced their defense from the very first yard of their territory.

Is Estonia aiming to be a fortress on Europe's periphery?

Kaido Tiitus, the advisor to the vice-chancellor of the Estonian Ministry of Defense, remarked: - Russia is, and continues to be, the most significant threat to Estonia's security. The conflict in Ukraine has depleted Russia's offensive capacity, but it is believed to be ready to rebuild it within two to three years. We must be prepared and make Russia pay the highest possible price for attempting to invade Estonia.

The proposed bunkers, authorized by borderland owners and facilitated through cooperation with the local community, will be constructed along the border with Russia. Efforts to pinpoint the exact construction sites will kick-start in the forthcoming weeks. These facilities won’t be permanently occupied but will be maintained by nearby military units. Based on a special agreement, landowners hosting the shelters can utilize part of these bunkers as utility rooms.

What measures will Estonia take to protect itself?

The fundamental requirement for these bunkers is to survive a direct hit from 152 mm caliber projectiles, typically associated with heavy artillery systems, notably held in large volumes by Russia—reportedly sourced from North Korea. Each bunker will have space for a ten-member crew designed to obstruct the enemy for as long as possible. Approximately 323-376 square feet will be allocated for sleeping quarters.

As a secondary measure, Estonia will erect so-called dragon teeth, which are robust concrete anti-tank barriers initially used by the Nazi forces during World War II. Currently, Russian invasion forces in Ukraine heavily employ these structures for fortification. In an attempt to swiftly secure the border, numerous barbed wire and mine storages will also be deployed.

The estimated cost of erecting the bunkers hovers around 60 million euros. Fully staffing these bunkers would not be achievable solely through the professional Estonian army. Full-scale security of the bunker line would demand the mobilization of reservists or the presence of NATO troops.

Related content