NewsRussian provocation: Banner featuring Putin appears at the border

Russian provocation: Banner featuring Putin appears at the border

Russian banner at the border with Estonia
Russian banner at the border with Estonia
Images source: © Getty Images | Anton Heraszczenko
ed. RST

3:27 PM EST, December 3, 2023

Russia continues to show provocative behavior towards its neighbors, resorting to open criticism, threats, and what some define as hybrid operations, such as directing migrants from Africa and Asia toward the borders of adjoining countries. Recently, a contentious banner surfaced at a border crossing with Estonia, prompting speculation.

Anton Heraszczenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, disseminated a clip from the Russian-Estonian border region between Ivangorod and Narva. A banner portraying Putin alongside a bear emerged on the Russian border. A tricolor flag and the outline of the Russian country background the banner.

However, the pivotal aspect is the quote on the banner that reads, "Russian borders never end," as cited by Heraszczenko. He interprets this as a further provocation from Putin's regime, enabling the regime to accuse the West of creating the "iron curtain". The adviser further suggests that Russia is gradually turning into North Korea.

Relations between Russia and Estonia are, understatedly, strained. Russians consistently lodge claims against the Baltic states, aspiring to reinstate their borders from the USSR era. This would result in a loss of independence for the three smaller republics along the Baltic Sea.

Vladimir Putin exerts pressure on Russia's neighbors through tactics like emitting migrants towards their borders. Both Finland and Estonia have recently had to respond to contingents of men from Asia and North Africa arriving at their border checkpoints. These incidents should be analyzed in the light of the banner's message.

Estonia enhances security at its border with Russia

Margus Tsahkna, the Estonian Foreign Minister, has advised Estonia's citizens and residents against traveling to Russia. He cautions that if the borders shut, they might be unable to return home.

Estonians, realizing their potential as the next targets of Putin's hybrid operation, especially with Finland closing its borders, have erected 25 concrete barriers on the bridge joining Narva in Estonia to Russia. This is a proactive measure to deter a potential influx of migrants from the east. The authorities are also contemplating closing border checkpoints.

The Russian-Estonian border stretches over 205 miles, punctuated by seven border crossings: pedestrian, car, and railway. Three interconnected lakes also run along approximately 77 miles of the border.

Since the crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border in 2021, Estonia has initiated the construction of fortifications. A fence, outfitted with an electronic surveillance system and barbed wire, is being erected along the entire length of the land border with Russia.

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