On August 17th, Belarusian officers armed with shields and riot gear forcibly pushed a group of 35 irregular migrants into Lithuania, and in the process entered Lithuanian territory.
Lithuania’s State Border Guard Service (VSAT) 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.
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 August 17],” 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.
The video allegedly shows Belarusian border guards in vehicles directing migrants over the border.
“We have likely proof that Belarusian officials are taking part in the organisation of irregular migration,” the ministry said in a post on Facebook.
The footage was captured by a helicopter operated by Frontex, the EU’s border guard agency that has deployed dozens of officers with equipment to Lithuania amid the migration crisis.
In the video footage, a group of irregular migrants are seen being escorted by an SUV. According to the ministry, the same vehicles are used by the Belarusian border guards, the State Border Committee.
Lithuania has seen hundreds of migrants, mostly from Iraq, arrive via Belarus each day, just weeks after Alexander Lukashenko threatened to send “migrants and drugs” to Europe. Vilnius officials say the Minsk regime is responsible for facilitating and enabling irregular migration, calling it “hybrid aggression” against Lithuania.
Due to the diplomatic spat between Minsk and Vilnius, thousands of migrants are stranded between the two borders.
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