Alyaksandr Lukashenka has fallen into the very migration trap that he was setting for the European Union, Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas believes.
In a recent interview with Delfi, the minister noted that the situation at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border stabilised after the country’s decision to turn back migrants from third countries who were trying to cross the border from the territory of Belarus.
“Now our institutions are busy with the cases of the illegal migrants living in Lithuania, i.e. we need to decide on their further stay. The migration service are preparing documents and checking them, all the necessary procedures are involved.
But I would not say that the situation there has stabilised on the Belarusian side, because several thousand – four of five – are still roam about the woods in the west of Belarus, [some are] living in hotels, they are running out of money. The Belarusian side (law enforcement officers) forcibly take them to the border, force them to cross the Lithuanian border. Of course, we cannot allow this. But, in any case, we see that Lukashenka has fallen into the trap he was preparing for the EU. What will happen to these people, in what situation will they find themselves?” Anusauskas said.
The total number of migrants illegally crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border in 2021 has exceeded 4,100, which is 50 times more than in the whole year of 2020; to put that in context, the Lithuanian side detained 46 illegal migrants in the year of 2019, 104 – in 2018, 72 – in 2017. Poland and Latvia have also faced the challenge of irregular migration this year.
Lithuania accuses the Belarusian border guards of ignoring the trespassers and even assisting them in their illegal moving, calling the current situation ‘the hybrid aggression’. 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.
On August 3, Lithuania’s border service started to divert illegal migrants entering the country from Belarus.
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.