Asked whether Belarus is involved in organizing illegal migration in Lithuania, Lukashenko claimed that criminal groups operate in Lithuania itself.
“We see potential criminal groups in Lithuania. Why don’t they see it? As soon as Lithuania liquidates these groups that bring illegal immigrants to Lithuania, illegal migration in Lithuania will be lower than last year, ”he said.
Mr Lukashenko said that Belarus was ready to help Lithuania, but not free of charge.
“And another argument: they have imposed sanctions on us, they are strangling my people. I, the president of this nation, must assess the situation, take certain steps so that the nation is not strangled and the country is not destroyed.
By taking some action against the Belarusian people, do they want us to defend them in this situation? Listen, that’s the least weird thing, “he said.
According to Lukashenko, border protection costs a lot.
“If you want us to help you, don’t put a noose around our necks,” the autocrat said in an interview with Sky News Arabia.
Foreign Minister Gabriel Landsberg said it was not aid but blackmail.
“We do not expect anything different from the terrorist regime. The answer is simple – if Minsk does not stop and continues to transport (migrants), Lithuania will offer new sanctions. 15min said the minister.
Laurynas Jonavičius, a lecturer at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University (VU TSPMI), says that he does not see much point in discussing migration with A. Lukashenko.
“Lukashenko’s goal is to stay in power, and Lithuania’s goal is not to stay in power. To offer something positive would be to contradict yourself “, – 15min said L. Jonavičius.
Cases of illegal migrants arriving in Lithuania occurred every year. For example, last year 81 people entered the border with Belarus illegally, and in 2019 – 46 people. In previous years, this number also ranged from a few dozen to a hundred. This shows that the path of migrants to Lithuania has existed for a long time.
However, this year an unusually large number of arrests – over 2 thousand. illegal migrants. Such increased flows require a larger force of officials, problems in the accommodation and supply of newcomers, and a heavy burden on the Migration Department and the courts dealing with their legal issues.
Lithuanian authorities and politicians say that this is not a normal migrant crisis, but a purposeful hybrid aggression by Belarus against Lithuania in response to European Union sanctions.
Belarus itself claims that it is no longer holding back migrants seeking to enter the EU because of sanctions imposed by the community to punish the regime for dealing with the opposition.
Lukashenko added that there are criminal groups operating in Lithuania related to the transportation of migrants.
“If they (Lithuanians, Poles, Germans or French) want to hide the truth, they can blame Belarus for contributing to this migration. “If they want to really fight illegal migration and redirect this illegal migration to normal, let them start on their own,” Lukashenko said.
Tensions between Minsk and Vilnius escalated last year after the disputed presidential election in Belarus, which was declared the winner by Lukashenko, who has been in charge of the country since 1994. The opposition and Western countries consider these elections to be rigged.
The August elections in Belarus provoked an unprecedented wave of opposition protests, to which the Minsk regime responded with severe repression against demonstrators, the independent media and civil society activists. Western countries responded to Lukashenko’s actions with a series of sanctions.
At the end of May, tensions with the West escalated further due to the forced landing of a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius in Minsk. Opposition blogger Roman Protasevičius and his friend, Sofia citizen, a Russian citizen studying in Vilnius, who was flying this liner, were arrested.
When sanctions on Minsk were extended as a result of the incident, Lukashenko said that Western countries would now be able to take care of drug smuggling and illegal migration at the borders with Belarus. “We stopped drugs and migrants – now you will eat and catch them yourself,” he continued.
Earlier this month, European Council President Charles Michel said there were suspicions that the Belarussian government was contributing to the influx of refugees into Lithuania, especially from Iraq.
Last week, the Lithuanian Seimas passed a resolution recognizing the increase in illegal migration through Belarus as hybrid aggression.
The resolution states that organized flows of foreigners crossing the border illegally from third countries are used to destabilize the situation in Lithuania.