Lithuania’s intermin, SBGS chief see no threat of migrant influx from Russia

  • 2022-11-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Flows of irregular migrants from Belarus have decreased since late October and there is no threat of a potential influx of migrants from Russia, Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite and Rustamas Liubajevas, commander of the State Border Guard Service (SBGS), have said after visiting the frontier zone near Lithuania’s border with Russia on Monday.

“We don’t see [the threat of an influx from Russia] at present. However, such a scenario is likely in the long term, therefore we have to be getting ready already and we have already begun that process,” Liubajevas said during a news conference in Vistytis, a small town in southwestern Lithuania.

He also noted that the irregular migration trend on Lithuania’s border with Belarus had been tilted to the downside of lately, contrary to what was observed in Poland and Latvia.

According to Bilotaite, “there is no real threat of a hybrid attack from Russia through Kaliningrad Region”. She did not rule out, however, that the scenario of transporting irregular migrants and pushing them to Lithuania might likely be repeated at the country’s border with Russia’s exclave of Kalininrad.

“I’d like to stress that we are ready for that: the border with Russia is 100-percent secure and the services are ready,” the minister noted.

Bilotaite stated citing available information that the “open sky” mode had been introduced at Kaliningrad's Khrabrovo Airport for Turkish, Syrian and Belarusian airlines for a period for two years, starting from October 1, and respective agreements had already been signed with Belavia and Turkish Airlines.

According to the Interior Ministry, the airport of Kaliningrad is also holding talks with partners from Egypt, Syria, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, and Sri Lanka.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began more than a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime.

Lithuanian border guards have sent about 18,200 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.