Lithuania to work out threat criteria for closing border crossings with Belarus – official

  • 2023-08-29
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania is setting up an inter-institutional task group to work out the criteria for security threats warranting the closure of more border crossings with Belarus, Deputy Interior Minister Vitalij Dmitrijev said on Tuesday.  

"We agreed that continuing the closure of checkpoints or limiting their operation to certain hours, for example, closing a checkpoint at 8 or 6 p.m., is something that requires consensus," Dmitrijev told BNS a meeting of officials from a number of ministries, border guards and other services. 

"We decided that we need a task group where experts would work out a system of indicators balanced in such a way that a certain event would trigger certain consequences, such as a restriction of operating hours or a complete closure of checkpoints," he said.  

Such events could include the movement of sanctioned goods and increased truck traffic or smuggling, according to the vice-minister.  

Military threats would also prompt certain reactions, but regional decisions would be made in coordination with the other Baltic states and Poland, he said.

Dmitrijev expects the criteria for closing border crossings to be worked out within a few weeks.

Lithuania closed two of its six border crossings with Belarus – at Sumskas and Tverecius – almost two weeks ago.

The interior minister said on Monday that her ministry would propose closing two more checkpoints, at Lavoriskes and Raigardas, in order to redirect capacities and reduce the scale of smuggling across the border.

However, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday that the Lithuanian government had no immediate plans to close more border crossings with Belarus, but that the possibility to do so remains as security threats persist.

President Gitanas Nauseda on Tuesday called on the government to weigh its decisions and not to make the closure of border checkpoints "a kind of sport".