The 2002-2005 Programme to Protect the External Border of the Union State aimed to reform the system effectively and was extended until 2006, funded by the Union State. About 2,500,000 Russian Roubles were spent on a wide range of activities: from constructing houses and barracks to equipping checkpoints and ensuring modern communications and training of highly qualified personnel.
The next stage of financing, from 2007 to 2011, allocated almost 3 billion Russian Roubles, creating 16 new checkpoints along the external border of the Union State. Two are placed near the villages of Dotishki and Benyakoni, on the border with Lithuania, while six new border posts have been commissioned and the military town of Polotsk has received new infrastructure for its border unit. In addition, 16 checkpoints have received automated equipment and two telephone exchanges have been installed. There are also six signaling complexes at intermediate points along the border and the perimeters of eight border service units have received technical means of protection and video surveillance systems. Russian universities have hosted 75 Belarusian specialists and 80 border guards have enhanced their qualification in Russia.
The current programme to strengthen Union State border security, for 2012-2016, foresees 3bln Russian Roubles of funding. In 2015, further numbers of Belarusian military personnel will receive training at higher professional establishments in the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service). Checkpoints will receive upgraded automated facilities and four checkpoints will receive information security systems. ‘Radiobarier’ inflatable protection alarm systems are being fitted, while Pinsk’s border unit is receiving a set of unmanned aircraft, allowing monitoring within a 50km radius.
Recently, Grodno hosted the Board of the Border Committee of the Union State, hearing mid-term results of how the programme is being realised. Future plans were discussed, with the Head of the Border Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation, Army General Vladimir Kulishov, noting that all targets had been met. He believes technical support is essential in installing the new biometric systems at border points, with work due to be completed in December.
Last year, 800 million Russian Roubles were invested in border security. The Chairman of the State Border Committee of Belarus, Leonid Maltsev, explained, “We are gaining experience in using drones to protect the state border, in two classes: those with a radius of about 50km, which can hover and report to the outpost; and a smaller version, for use by border guards on duty. We are now working on how to use them most effectively. We also have small gyrocopters, like helicopters, which can monitor day and night, manned by two people. They can land on any terrain: even on snow or water.”
Dense forests can make it difficult for gyroplanes to see what’s happening below, but are to be equipped with rapidly deployable signalling complexes, which can send camera and sensor images not only to the outpost but to the border unit and to the Border Committee.
By Katerina Charovskaya