Latvia starts to fortify its border with Russia and Belarus

The Russian-Latvian border
The Russian-Latvian border

Along Latvia’s border with Russia and Belarus, Latvian army will create a chain of strongholds: defensive fortifications, obstacles and ammunition depots and plans to spend on them $326 million in 5 years, LSM reported on May 1.

According to engineering inspector of National Armed Forces of Latvia, Lieutenant Colonel Kaspars Lazdins, first defense line will be built at a distance of about a kilometer from border with Russia, near Terekhovo border crossing in Ludza Municipality. Anti-tank ditches are being dug there.

“Here we are digging up the road and making an anti-tank ditch so that vehicles cannot move along this road if necessary,” he said.

Read also: Baltic countries to build defenses along Russian border

“Including tanks. This ditch has specified parameters and appropriate depth to fulfill its purpose.”

Lazdins noted that Latvia’s “anti-mobility plan” involves creating a chain of obstacles and using natural obstacles such as rivers, swamps, and forests. He also noted that mining can also be done, but for now it is only about obstacles without usage of explosives.

He also noted that land on which the work is being carried out has an owner who allows digging a ditch on his territory, but at the same time fully retains ownership of it.

According to Lazdins, Latvia will first focus on first line of defense and plans to dig anti-tank ditches along the border and then reinforce it with “dragon’s teeth.” He added that each neighborhood will have its own solutions.

It is noted that places for ammunition storage will be determined in accordance with regulations and military necessity.

Strengthening the Latvian-Russian border

Latvian-Russian border has length of 283.6 kilometers. Construction of fence along it began in 2015, but in 2019, work stopped because a criminal case was opened against Igate company, which built the fence.

In August 2023, Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs said that one of the tasks was to complete the fence that had been started and said that a 20-kilometer-long section should be completed within four months.

Read also: Latvia plans to mine its border with Russia and Belarus

By 2019, Latvia managed to build 100 kilometers of fence, as well as infrastructure for border guards. Since summer of 2023, completion of construction has been handed over to state-owned company Valsts nekustamie īpašumi, which is carrying out similar work on Belarusian border.

Next year, Latvian army plans to build 30 kilometers of fence on a difficult section of border. Country has already allocated 50 million euros for priority areas, with a total of 120 million more planned.

Read also: Fortifying border with Russia & Belarus one of Latvia’s main priorities of 2024 – Latvian President

In March 2024, it was reported that Latvia was planning to strengthen its border with Belarus and Russia in order to block possible ways for enemy troops to advance: in addition to strengthening border protection measures, they planned to use existing infrastructure.

LSM wrote on May 3 that Latvia is taking steps to create more than 3,000 shelters and 12,000 temporary shelters in coming years. For these purposes, country plans to allocate at least 98 million euros annually from 2025 to 2034.

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