VILNIUS – The Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday to extend the existing state of emergency on the borders with Russia and Belarus, rather than nationwide, until mid-December and to restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the country.
The state of emergency was introduced across Lithuania on February 24 after Russia invaded Ukraine and was last extended through September 15.
According to Wednesday's government resolution, which is yet to be approved by the parliament, the state of emergency will be in force through December 16 in areas close to Lithuania's borders with Russia and Belarus, and at border control points outside the border areas, such as Vilnius and Kaunas airports, Vilnius railway station, etc.
Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said while presenting the draft resolution to the Cabinet that it proposed "a new emergency measure" aimed at restricting the movement of Russian citizens across the EU border.
The State Border Guard Service (SBGS) will have to ensure that only Russian citizens who meet certain criteria set by the government will be allowed to cross into Lithuanian territory through the EU's external border.
The criteria are yet to be drawn up by the Foreign Ministry in consultation with Latvia and Estonia.
The Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian foreign ministers said in Kaunas on Wednesday that an agreement was reached in principle to bar entry for Russian citizens holding Schengen visas issued by any country.
The agreement will have to be implemented through national legislation. In Lithuania, this is being done through the resolution on the state of emergency.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that the exact date on which the restrictions on Russian tourists will start to apply was not yet clear.
Under the government resolution on the state of emergency, Lithuania will leave in place stepped-up border controls and will continue to deny entry to irregular migrants, except on humanitarian grounds.
As before, visa applications from Russian and Belarusian citizens will not be accepted, except in cases where the Foreign Ministry mediates the issuance of visas.