War in Ukraine: Narva, the border town where NATO and the EU meet Russia

  • Frank Gardner
  • BBC News, Narva


A volunteer worker told the BBC that the border in Narva was the most convenient in Europe for Ukrainians to cross from Russia.

Narva is a strange place, almost an aberration. It is located at the easternmost tip of NATO and is the third largest city in Estonia, but 97% of its approximately 60,000 residents speak Russian, making it the largest Russian-speaking city in the European Union.

It is located on the west bank of the Narva River, which flows into the Baltic Sea. On the east bank is Russia. For someone visiting it for the first time, it looks like that Classic Cold War frontier. Two huge opposing forts stand on either side of the river, with the international border passing through the middle.

To the west lies Narva Castle, built by the Danish invaders in the 13th century. To the east is Ivangorod Castle, built by a Muscovite prince in 1492.


Ivangorod Fountain in Russia, seen from the opposite bank of the Narva River, in Estonia.

Since a large part of Estonia’s border with Russia runs along a lake, it is likely that any future invasion of Moscow will occur here or in the south, near Latvia.

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