Lithuania won't close more border checkpoints with Belarus in near future – PM

  • 2023-08-29
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian government will not take decisions to close more border crossings with Belarus in the new future, but plans to do so remain in place as security threats persist, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Tuesday.   

"There will certainly be no decisions on the closure of any additional checkpoints in the near future, but there is a very logical plan that outlines how the number of Lithuanian-Belarusian border crossings could be reduced, from where to start and where to finish, up to an extreme closure that would be carried out in coordination with other countries," she told LRT Radio. 

Lithuania closed two of its six border crossings with Belarus – at Sumskas and Tverecius – almost two weeks ago.  Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said on Monday that her ministry would propose closing two more checkpoints, at Lavoriskes and Raigardas.

Polish and Baltic ministers also agreed on Monday on a plan for completely sealing off their countries' borders with Belarus. According to Bilotaite, this could be done in a coordinated way in the event of an armed incident at the border of one of the states or a mass storming of the border by irregular migrants.

According to Simonyte, Belarus continues to be a "source of instability" because the country is led by a "self-proclaimed president who believes he can use various tools to try to secure something for himself."

The prime minister said the presumed death of Wagner's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is not changing the situation, given, among other things, Minsk's orchestration of illegal migration to neighboring countries.

"In that sense, we can't say that something in Belarus has improved all of a sudden.  As for Wagner mercenaries, we definitely need to continue monitoring the situation, which our institutions are undoubtedly doing," Simonyte said. 

"But I wouldn't want to either overstate the threats posed by the situation or say that it has greatly improved just because someone shot down Prigozhin's plane and saw the need to get rid of him," she added.

It will take some time to assess the trends around Wagner mercenaries in Belarus to see if they will return to the front or perhaps join other private companies, according to Simonyte.

"We are watching the situation with vigilance (...), but if decisions that change some status quo are to be made, they should have a serious basis, rather than just being general talk or discussions," she said.