The Baltic nation of Latvia is building a large-scale fence along its Russian border in an effort to keep out migrants who attempt to illegally cross the border, Newsweek reports, citing BBC’s interview with Latvia’s Border Guard Service.
According to Eugenia Pozniak, of the Border Guard Service, the new fence will cover almost a third of the total border between Russia and its Baltic neighbour.
“Over the last year we detained 144 persons, and this year their number is approaching 500. There we are talking about a threefold increase. A lot of them Vietnamese and they usually go in groups of several dozen people,” Pozniak told the BBC, according to a translation from Newsweek.
Latvia’s fence construction does not explicitly reference the ongoing security situation in the Baltics. However, it does follow a trend among the other Baltic nations and Poland to strike a more defensive posture against Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
In April 2015, Poland announced that it would build a series of watchtowers along its border with Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Warsaw also announced that it would increase its defence spending to better prepare itself for any conflict between Russia and NATO, of which it is is a military member.
The Baltic nation of Lithuania also announced in February 2015 that it would bring back limited mandatory conscription in an effort to stand up to potential Russian expansionism.
“We must temporarily renew mandatory military service,” President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters, according to AFP. “The current geopolitical environment requires us to enhance and accelerate army recruitment.”
And the concerns of a revanchist Russia has echoed beyond the Baltic states to Scandinavia. Historically neutral Sweden has made a series of security pledges and mutual defence pacts with neighbouring Baltic and Scandinavian countries in an effort to boost its own security, as the country continues to debate whether or not it should join the NATO military alliance.
Construction of the Latvian fence officially began on Monday, with designs having started in the beginning of 2015.