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NATO allies to erect drone wall along Russia border

NATO states along the alliance’s eastern flank will bolster their protection against “unfriendly countries” with unmanned vehicles, Lithuania’s interior minister has said, as the world eyes the rapid pace of drone development fed by the war in Ukraine.

“This is a completely new thing—a drone border from Norway to Poland, the purpose of which would be to protect our border with the help of drones and other technologies,” Vilnius’ Interior Minister, Agnė Bilotaitė, told domestic news agency BNS.

The drones will add to physical barriers and surveillance systems to “allow us to also protect ourselves from provocations by unfriendly countries, and prevent contraband,” Bilotaitė said. The “wall” will also employ counter-drone technology, regional media reported.

More than two years of war in Ukraine has spurred on lightning-fast innovations in airborne, land-based and waterborne drones. Uncrewed technology fills the skies above Ukraine, with Moscow and Kyiv battling it out to stay ahead of the other.

“As a venture of this scale, it’s unique,” Estonia’s Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said in remarks reported by The Baltic Times. “Drone surveillance and anti-drone capability is crucial both for deterrence and for countering the influence activities of our eastern neighbor.”

Drone

A homemade prototype drone is tested with fake RPG -7 grenade in a field outside Kyiv on November 9, 2022, in Ukraine. NATO states along the alliance’s eastern flank will bolster their protection against “unfriendly…
A homemade prototype drone is tested with fake RPG -7 grenade in a field outside Kyiv on November 9, 2022, in Ukraine. NATO states along the alliance’s eastern flank will bolster their protection against “unfriendly countries” with unmanned vehicles, Lithuania’s interior minister has said, Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Drones cover nearly every aspect of the fighting in Ukraine, from helping out with reconnaissance to launching kamikaze drone strikes and guiding artillery fire.

“As we see in the case of Ukraine, there is a constant race between the adversaries to develop technology, and new ways to use drones are continually being found in warfare,” Laanemets said.

Lithuania’s State Border Guard Service has a new drone unit, currently building up stocks of drones and counter-drone systems, Bilotaitė said, according to Lithuania’s LRT news agency.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has largely boosted NATO unity against Moscow, pushing previously neutral Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.

NATO countries in the east of Europe, closest to both Ukraine and Russia’s borders—as well as those of Kremlin ally Belarus—have pledged to increase defense spending.

Several countries have said they will commit more than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to defense, exceeding NATO’s 2-percent target.

Ukraine has warned that, should it lose its war effort against Russia, eastern European states could become Moscow’s next target.

“If Ukraine will not stand, Europe will not stand,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said shortly after Moscow’s troops poured into Ukraine in February 2022. “If we will fall, you will fall.”

Baltic states that were part of the former Soviet Union have long said they believe Moscow poses a threat to NATO and the countries closest to Russia’s borders.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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