Conflicts & War

Lithuania to close two border crossings with Belarus amid Wagner ‘threats’

Riga, Latvia, Aug 16 (EFE).- Lithuania will close two of its six border crossings with Belarus this week, the Lithuanian government said Wednesday.

The Lithuanian Council of Ministers approved the Transport Ministry’s proposal to close two crossings, at Sumsk and Tverecuis, from Friday. “This decision is a preventive measure aimed at controlling threats to national security and possible provocations at the border,” Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said.

The closure of the two border crossings comes after Belarus agreed to host Wagner Group mercenaries on its territory.

The Medininkai border crossing is considered the best technically equipped and has control systems that are not available at the crossings which will be closed.

With additional border guards and customs inspectors at Medininkai, “the situation regarding vehicle queues and cargo transportation should not fundamentally change,” according to a Transport Ministry spokesman.

Lithuanian media believe that the decision on these two border crossing points could be the first step towards the complete closure of the border with Belarus.

The Lithuanian public broadcaster’s website quoted Bilotaitė as saying that the Baltic countries and Poland were discussing the possibility of completely closing their borders with Belarus and that the final details will be coordinated at a meeting in Warsaw on August 28.

The Polish and Latvian presidents, Andrzej Duda and Edgars Rinkeviczs, said after a meeting on Wednesday in Poland that security and the situation on the border with Belarus is a priority issue.

“Poland and Latvia share their concern about the threat of hybrid warfare from Belarus,” Duda said in a joint appearance with his Latvian counterpart.

Latvia, like the other Baltic countries and Poland, is reinforcing its border troops and modernizing its armies, Rinkeviczs added.

The Lithuanian State Border Guard Service estimates that around 4,500 Wagner mercenaries are currently stationed in Belarus.

The announcement of the closure of two Lithuanian border crossings came as Latvia canceled permits for its border guards and reinforced its border with Belarus after detecting an increase in irregular border crossings.

The concentration of migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere encouraged by Belarus on the borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland is seen as a “hybrid war” aimed at overburdening border guards and social services of countries hosting Belarusian dissidents and that support Ukraine in the war with Russia. EFE


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