EU wants answers from Russia on 'unacceptable' Estonian border action

FILE PHOTO: France hosts humanitarian conference for Sudan and neighbouring countries

(Reuters) - The EU said on Friday it demanded answers from Russia on what it called an "unacceptable" provocation from Russian guards on the border with Estonia.

Estonia said on Thursday that in the early hours of the day Russian border guards had removed navigation buoys from the Estonian side of the Narva River separating the two countries.

"This border incident is part of a broader pattern of provocative behaviour and hybrid actions by Russia, including on its maritime and land borders in the Baltic Sea region," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"Such actions are unacceptable. The European Union expects an explanation by Russia about the removal of the buoys, and their immediate return."

The location of buoys between Russia and Estonia had been disputed since the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Estonian police and border guard said.

The Russian embassy in Brussels did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Narva River runs from a lake between Russia and Estonia and ends up in the Gulf of Finland, part of the Baltic Sea.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Russia's Baltic Sea borders should be in accordance with international law, and that the defence ministry's work to clarify the border was of a technical nature.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Frances Kerry)