Riga, Nov 15 (EFE).- The presidents of all three Baltic countries said Monday their governments would be ready join Poland if it decides to ask NATO to start so-called Article 4 consultations with regards to what they called “hybrid warfare” by Belarus, which they accuse of using migrants to heap pressure on the borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Speaking to journalists at a joint press conference in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Latvian president Egils Levits said the events along the border with Belarus “are not a refugee crisis like that in 2015, but a hybrid attack.”
“The political reaction must be different than it was then,” Levits said, stressing that Latvia would join Poland if it decides to call consultations under Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which applies when the territorial integrity, political independence or security of a NATO member is threatened.
Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda said that the country’s national security council had last Friday agreed on the conditions under which it would join Poland in calling for Article 4 consultations. Estonian president Alar Karis told journalists that he had summoned a national security council meeting on Tuesday on the same matter.
Poland has reported several violent border breach attempts along its frontier with Belarus. Lithuania is processing some 4,200 irregular border crossers who arrived over the summer from Belarus before the country started turning back migrants.
Latvia declared an emergency and started repelling border crossers in August after the first signs that Belarus was diverting migrants to the Latvian border.
Speaking after a meeting of all three Baltic presidents, Nauseda said that it appeared that Belarus was integrating militarily with Russia, which presents a new situation for NATO.
Russian paratroopers were recently dropped near Belarus borders with Poland and Lithuania in a military exercise.
Lithuania’s president said: “Russia in one way or another is connected to the migrant crisis,” adding that some migrants were travelling from Iraq through Moscow then on to Belarus.
On Sunday, Latvia’s Defense Ministry announced it was holding unplanned or snap exercises near the country’s eastern border with Belarus involving some 3,000 national guards and regular army soldiers.
The exercises will continue until December 12, defense officials said,
The three presidents on Monday also talked by video link with Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and agreed with the Polish head of state that the borders of all countries facing the threat from Belarus must be protected, Levits said.