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Landlocked Belarus sees more borders to the west closed as tensions rise

Lithuania's border with Belarus, August 16, 2023
Lithuania's border with Belarus, August 16, 2023 Copyright LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright LIBKOS/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AFP, AP, EVN
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Lithuania has closed two of its six border crossings into Belarus, as Latvia and Poland bolster their borders with Russia's ally.

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Lithuania’s to close two of its six crossing points at the border with Belarus amidst tension in the Baltic states and Poland over the presence of Wagner mercenaries in the country to their east.

Landlocked Belarus has borders with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine as well as with Russia.

From Friday vehicles trying to cross from Belarus to Lithuania at Tverecius and Sumskas will be diverted to border posts at Medininkai, Lavoriskes, Raigardas and Salcininkai, which will remain open for now.

“The main point and goal is to have as many border guards at the border as possible," Lithuania’s Interior Minister, Agne Bilotaite, said. "This is what is being done because this is where they are needed the most.”

Bilotaite also pointed out that Baltic states and Poland are discussing possibilities for a complete border closure.

“If such a decision is taken, it is important that it is implemented not by one country but the whole region”, the minister said, noting that she already discussed the matter with her Polish counterpart.

Illegal attempts to cross Latvia's border with Belarus

Latvia’s prime minister said his country’s border guards have been taking robust action against people trying to cross illegally from Belarus. Latvia’s State Border Guard said it apprehended 40 people on 15 August, bringing the total number of people stopped this year to 5,839.

“This is proactive action," Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvia’s Prime Minister, said.

"We have seen that this summer the pressure from Belarus is not decreasing, but gradually increasing. Proactive action, by the border guard and involving the armed forces as well. 

"We simply increase our presence and send a clear signal to both our society and the Belarusian authorities that there will be no jokes here. It is not only the external border of Latvia, it is also the external border of the European Union. We have successfully guarded it so far and will continue to do so."

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics is meeting with Poland's President Andrzej Duda for talks in Warsaw on Wednesday. Security along borders with Belarus and Russia was at the top of the agenda.

Earlier this month Warsaw's Defence Minister said Poland is planning to move up to 10,000 additional troops to the border with Belarus to support the Border Guard.

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