Poland, Baltic States Urge EU to Spend on Eastern Border Defense

(Bloomberg) -- Leaders from Poland and the Baltic states implored the European Union to step up support for an initiative to bolster defenses on the bloc’s eastern frontier.

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In a letter to European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel sent Wednesday, the four leaders cited the intensification of military and hybrid threats from Russia and Belarus.

“Extraordinary measures need to be employed as the EU’s external border must be protected and defended with military and civilian means,” the leaders — Prime Ministers Donald Tusk of Poland, Kaja Kallas of Estonia and Evika Silina of Latvia, and Latvian President Gitanas Nauseda — wrote.

The bloc’s participation in two projects, known as Shield East and Baltic Defense Line, will help expand defenses as well as open a path to apply European technology, innovation and expertise, the letter argued. The leaders pushed for the issue to be added to the agenda of a gathering of EU leaders in Brussels Thursday and Friday.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in May outlined a 10 billion zloty ($2.55 billion) investment in strengthening its borders with Russia and Belarus.

The Baltic nations are building a defensive line along the border with Russia and Belarus that includes anti-tank barriers, trenches and fortifications. Lithuania announced Thursday it would invest 4 million euros ($4.3 million) into such fortifications by the end of the year.

“In order to protect and defend Europe, we need this defense infrastructure — that needs political decisions and funding too,” Kallas, who is touted to be selected as the EU’s top foreign policy chief, said in Brussels Thursday.

--With assistance from Milda Seputyte.

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