RIGA - Around 120,000 Ukrainians have crossed Latvia's eastern border so far this year, with up to 1,300 crossings recorded on some days, State Border Guard chief Guntis Pujats said in an interview with TV3 channel Friday.
According to Pujats, the number of Ukrainians crossing the Latvian border is so high because our country is one of the most safest ways for Ukrainians to reach Europe or western Ukraine from eastern Ukraine or Russia.
In most cases, these people travel through Latvia in transit and only few of them stay in Latvia, the border guard chief explained.
Citizens of Moldova make another large group of border crossers, as traveling through Latvia is the only way for them to get from Russia to their country. Around 36 Moldovans have crossed Latvia's border so far this year.
Meanwhile, many residents of Latvia still travel to Russia and Belarus despite Latvian authorities' warnings against making such trips due to security risks.
The traffic of Russian citizens across the Latvian border is busier than during the Covid-19 pandemic but much slower than before the pandemic. In 2018, for instance, around 30,000 Russians arrived in Latvia as compared to just 8,000 this year.
Pujats said that the persons arriving in Latvia from Russia or Belarus are interviewed by the State Border Guard and State Security Service and those who express support for Russia's aggression are not allowed to enter Latvia. In some cases, persons are asked to sign a document of dissent from Russia's aggressive policies. Since the start of the war, around 60 persons have not been allowed to enter Latvia due to these reasons.
Meanwhile, the traffic of illegal migrants from Belarus has decreased, and it appears that the Belarusian regime is intentionally directing the migrants to Lithuania. The situation, however, can be quite changeable, Putajs said, adding that two days ago 20 illegal migrants were prevented from entering Latvia.