Border Security

Lithuania - Belarus border | Photo Žygimantas Gedvila/ BNS

Lithuania’s Ministry of the Interior announced on March 24 that the entire border with Belarus is now covered by surveillance systems. Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė noted that for the last year and a half, “we have been a key target of [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko’s hybrid attack. Instrumentalised migration as a phenomenon has not disappeared and it is likely to be always nearby. We must continue to strengthen our border protection infrastructure”.

She added: “Now that the installation of border surveillance systems is complete, the next step is to install a patrol track and a control strip along the entire border with Belarus.” Once installed, the patrol trail will allow border guards to respond more quickly to border violations and cases of damage to the physical barrier. Investment in border protection also helps in the fight against smuggling, according to the minister.

Lithuanian border guards last year intercepted smuggled cigarettes worth more than 16.1 million euros in total, the largest annual amount in more than two decades. About 530 kilometres of fencing and 360 kilometres of concertina barrier have been installed on Lithuania’s border with Belarus over the past year.

Ninety-six percent of Lithuania’s 679-kilometre border with Belarus was monitored by surveillance systems in late 2022, compared to just over a half at the start of the year.

Almost 4,200 migrants crossed irregularly into Lithuania from Belarus in 2021. Lithuania calls it a “hybrid attack” by the Minsk government, accusing Belarusian officials of migrant smuggling.