VILNIUS – Lithuania is further stepping-up the protection of its border with Belarus in response to a recent increase in attempts by illegal migrants to enter the country, the Interior Ministry says.
Additional army forces, up to 64 troops per day, will be involved for the purpose, Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said.
"As we see the tendency at the border with Belarus of a rising number of migrants' attempts to illegally cross the state border, we need to respond and be prepared for the worst scenarios. (…) It has been agreed that additional army forces will come in to assist border guards," the minister was quoted as saying in the ministry's press release.
"We have always said that, if needed, the Lithuanian army has provided and will continue providing assistance in the context of the ongoing hybrid aggression, and we are ready for that. Moreover, Frontex has also extended its assistance and new opportunities to use allied helicopters are arising as we are not alone facing this crisis," National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said.
The Lithuanian army is being asked to extend its assistance until December 31.
According to the Interior Ministry, the situation at the Lithuanian-Belarus border remains complicated as illegal migrants are making regular attempts to cross the border.
4,172 migrants have entered Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Lithuania prevented 4,051 foreigners from entering since August 2 when it introduced push-backs. Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".