Belarus MoD scrambles helicopters against ‘anti-state’ balloons, Lithuania reports border violation

Around 7:30 pm on August 23, the Belarusian air forces and air defense forces ‘thwarted a provocation on the part of the Republic of Lithuania’ not far from the village of Valkaushchyzna (Oshmyany district), the Belarusian MoD reported on Monday morning.

“A sound consisting of eight balloons depicting anti-state symbols was sent from the territory of the neighbouring country,” the ministry says.

Apparently, the Belarusian top brass meant white-red-white flags or even colours of the baloons. However, they failed to provide the photos of ‘violators’.

A day earlier, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktar Khrenin said that people waving white-red-white flags would be barred from ‘desecrating’ World War Two monuments and memorial places. In his opinion, Nazis staged mass executions of Belarusians, Russians, Jews under white-red-white flags. However, he did not give any evidence. In addition, he stressed the army would be dealing aganist protesters ‘if peace was disturbed.’

Mi-24 (illustrative photo). Source: Belarusian Defense Ministry

According to the ministry, the flight of baloons was stopped without weapon owing to ‘resolute actions’ by the Mi-24 helicopter crews. On the back of the incident, the Belarusian side filed ‘corresponding materials’ to Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry and announced addressing a note.

In turn, the neigbouring country states their state border was violated by Belarusian military on August, 23. Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Belarusian Valery Baranouski and handed him a protest note on Monday morning:

“The Belarusian Mi-24 helicopter flew into Lithuania’s territory near Medininkai on 23 August at 18.50 p.m. Belarus is urged to explain this incident and to ensure that such violations do not happen again,” the MFA statement reads.

As reported earlier, about 48,000 Lithuanians formed a 32-kilometre solidarity chain from the centre of Vilnius to the village of Medininkai not far from the Belarusian border on August, 23. The event was attended by Lithuania’s incumbent Gitanas Nauseda, as well as ex-presidents Dalia Grybauskaite and Valdas Adamkus, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, and others. The participants were waving white-red-white national flags of Belarus, holding postesr and balloons.