Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the modern land boundary between Estonia and Russia has been a source of contention since then. After decades of negotiations and failed agreements, Estonia and Russia signed a treaty delimiting their international boundary in 2014, but it has yet to be ratified by either State. Despite the difficulties in agreeing on paper to a boundary definition, the de facto land frontier between Estonia and Russia has remained relatively consistent since Estonia’s independence.

The land boundary extends through primarily marshy wetlands and waterways from the tripoint with Latvia in the south, along the Kuleskaya River, through Lake Peipus and the Narva River before terminating on the coast of the Gulf of Narva in the northern Baltic Sea. It runs in a primarily south to north direction for 338 kilometers (210 miles).

The location of the border is largely a holdover from the internal union republic borders, with slight modifications, between the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. A significant point of contention for the two States regarding the modern boundary delimitation is the legacy of the Treaty of Tartu, which granted Estonian independence from Russia in 1920 and defined its boundaries. Estonia regards the Treaty of Tartu as legally valid, but Russia claims the Agreement is no longer applicable due to Estonia’s more recent independence from the Soviet Union.

No joint boundary demarcation efforts have been made, but Estonia has unilaterally installed border markers and fencing along much of the frontier.

Map showing the land boundary between Estonia and Russia


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