The intelligence services in Lithuania are concerned about the sudden influx of illegal migrants from Belarus. The Lithuanian authorities suspect that the neighbouring country is actively allowing immigrants to pass through in order ‘to destabilise the European Union’.
About 400 illegal migrants, particularly from Iraq and Syria, have attempted to enter Lithuania from Belarus this year. That’s five times as much as in the whole of 2020. The influx puts great pressure on Lithuanian intelligence, which takes into account an increased risk of terrorism and even secret agents.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte accuses Belarus of being behind the recent increase in illegal immigration.
’ It is not an ordinary episode of illegal immigration as we see it on the other borders of the European Union’, she said on Tuesday.
Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko threatened to open the floodgates at the end of May. ‘We have stopped drugs and migrants – now you will have to eat and catch them yourself’, he warned in the Belarusian Parliament. In doing so, he responded to the sanctions imposed by the European Union after Lukashenko forced a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius in Minsk, after which the 26-year-old journalist-dissident Roman Protasevich was handcuffed.
According to Prime Minister Simonyte, Lukashenko has kept his word. ‘Mr Lukashenko threatened to flood the European Union with drugs and migrants, and here we go – in a few weeks’ time we see a rapid increase in people crossing the border illegally’, she said.
Darius Jauniškis, the director of the Lithuanian intelligence service SSD, said in an interview with the news site 15min that he takes into account the possibility that among the migrants terrorists and spies also hide.
‘I understand that we cannot put a stamp on everyone, we do not regard everyone as a criminal or spy, but that risk arises with a larger flow of refugees’, he said.