2021.08.18 09:15

Belarusian officers enter Lithuanian territory, push migrants over the border

BNS2021.08.18 09:15

On Tuesday, Belarusian officers armed with shields and riot gear forcibly pushed a group of 35 irregular migrants into Lithuania and then entered the country’s territory, according to a press release by the Interior Ministry.

Lithuania's State Border Guard Service (VSAT) also shared a video of the incident on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon. It said that Belarus first published the footage, but omitted the part where the officers can be seen in Lithuanian territory.

"Belarusian officers wearing riot gear were the ones who were pushing migrants from Belarus into Lithuania's territory, and they later themselves illegally crossed Lithuania's state border," VSAT said.

"Following repeated warnings by VSAT officers, the violators moved back into the Belarusian side," the Lithuanian border guard service said.

VSAT užfiksavo, kaip Baltarusijos pareigūnai į Lietuvą stumia migrantus, patys neteisėtai peržengia šalių sieną

In response to the incident, Lithuania is strengthening vigilance on the border, the Interior Ministry said.

"We cannot tolerate this bold provocation of 12 Belarusian officials crossing the border of the Republic of Lithuania [on Tuesday],” Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said in a statement. “We have immediately responded to the provocation and have made a decision to further increase the border protection capacity.”

Two earlier incidents have been reported on the border, including a Belarusian guard briefly entering Lithuanian territory. The country's authorities also previously published footage showing Belarusian officers guiding and escorting migrants.

Over 4,100 irregular migrants, mostly Iraqi citizens, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year.

Lithuania has a state-level extreme situation declared over the unprecedented migration influx which it says is being orchestrated by the Belarusian regime.

Diplomatic protest

Vilnius has handed in a diplomatic note to Minsk in response to Tuesday's incident when 12 Belarusian border guards illegally crossed into Lithuania's territory, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday.

“We have informed Belarus that the incident was recorded and it is raising serious concerns as we consider it to be yet another provocation and escalation of tensions in an already fairly tense situation. We are urging [Belarus] to refrain from incidents that can be viewed as provocative, not to mention real provocations,” Landsbergis told reporters.

NATO and EU partners have also been informed about the incident, he added.

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