Belarus, Russia border situation 'calm', provocations aren’t ruled out – Lithuania's SBGS

  • 2023-07-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNUS - The situation at Lithuania's borders with Russia and Belarus is calm in the run-up to next week's NATO summit in Vilnius, but border guards are prepared for possible provocations, Rustamas Liubajevas, commander of Lithuania's State Border Guard Service, says.

"Talking about the current situation at the border, it's quite calm, and we have single cases of border violations last week, and there was no additional activity of Belarusian or Russian border guards, the activity level is really low at the moment," he told reporters at the border section administered by the Lavoriskes Frontier Station on Friday.

In his words, an increase in illegal migration activity is being observed on the Belarusian border with Poland and Latvia.

"Obviously, the regime, using its capabilities, can create some tension at one or the other border," Liubajevas said. "We could see a demonstration of military force, a display of some kind of military equipment on the border. But I repeat, we have not recorded such cases."

Lithuanian officers have been preparing for the NATO summit for the past six months, getting ready for possible provocations and holding exercises, the border chief said.

"We might see intentional or unintentional or simulated state border violations to test border guard's response and to see whether the border surveillance systems are working. We could also see migrants diverted, which is, again, one of the possibilities, in order to cause, let's say, tensions, and irregular migrants might be grouped and pushed into our territory," he said.

Lithuania has for some time now stepped up its vigilance at the EU's external borders with Russia and Belarus, in response to the increase in irregular migration, and it has also reintroduced checks on the EU internal borders with Latvia and Poland for six days as of Friday in the wake of the NATO summit.

As a result, checks at border checkpoints at Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga Airports, the seaport of Klaipeda and on the borders with Poland and Latvia will be carried out from 8 a.m. on Friday until 8 a.m. July 13.

People crossing the internal borders are required to have a valid travel document, while third-country nationals must have passports and visas if they are subject to a visa regime, or other documents authorizing their entry to Schengen countries, such as temporary or permanent residence permits.

Lithuania's Interior Ministry said earlier that, depending on the situation and potential threats, checks will be carried out on a random risk-analysis-based basis at any time of the day.

Poland and Latvia will be accessed via main roads, and temporary checkpoints will be set up at the borders. Temporary infrastructure will be used for checks and temporary road signs and barriers will be erected to control traffic.

Customs officers as well as Latvian and Polish border guards will be deployed to assist with checks at the internal borders, while the Lithuanian Armed Forces, the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union as well as Estonian and Moldovan border guards and additional FRONTEX forces will be deployed to control the EU's external border.

The NATO summit in Vilnius will take place on July 11-12. This is the first time that Lithuania is hosting this event.