The scale of the hybrid aggression waged by the Belarusian authorities is increasing, which results in the growth of the flow of irregular migration, the Lithuanian side says.
On Monday evening, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite announced that the country’s border service would be authorised to turn back illegal migrants entering Lithuania.
“To protect the state border and to prevent persons who plan to cross the border in illegal places from entering Lithuania’s territory, an order has been made to oblige them to use legal ways of crossing the border or asking for asylum and to divert persons to the nearest operating international border checkpoint or diplomatic representation,” Delfi quotes Bilotaite who is controlling extreme situation operations in the country.
According to the top official, the individuals trying to cross the border in banned places should be considered persons who plan to commit a criminal act.
Laurynas Kasciunas, the head of the National Security and Defense Committee of the Seimas, confirmed that the Lithuanian forces would be bound to obliged to immediately send migrants who illegally crossed the Lithuanian-Belarusian border back to Belarus.
“The Lukashenka regime said today that additional flights from three Iraqi cities were being opened. Illegal migrants are knowingly cooperating with the Belarusian regime; they violate Lithuanian laws brazenly, cynically and with impunity,” he said on Facebook in the wake of the announcement made by Agne Bilotaite.
It is still a bit unclear what would be the next step of the migrants who might not be accepted by both Lithuania and Belarus. Some foreigners who have illegally entered Lithuania are offered to voluntarily return to their native countries, not to Belarus.
The country’s border officials detained tens of irregular migrants at the border last night and turned them back to Belarus, Delfi has reported on Tuesday morning with reference to Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Arnoldas Abramavicius.
The total number of migrants illegally crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in 2021 has exceeded 3,800, which is tens of times more than in the whole year of 2020. As reported earlier, in response to Western sanctions imposed on the regime, Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened to loosen control over the flow of migrants and banned substances (even nuclear materials) at the border with the European Union.
Lithuania accuses the Belarusian border guards of ignoring the trespassers and even helping them in their illegal moving. The neighbouring country has strengthened the border security and even installed barbed wire along the 5 km section, while there are plans to install more than 20 km of barbed wire. Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis suggested Belarus was involved in delivering Syrians and Iraqis from Istanbul and Baghdad to its territory using the national tour operator Tsentrkurort, then so-called ‘tourists’ are taken to the border from Minsk.
The European Union sent employees of the EU Agency for External Border Security (Frontex) to Lithuania in order to strengthen the protection of the the EU-Belarus border from illegal migrants.