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Lithuania to close 2 more border crossings with Belarus

by Abbey Fenbert February 22, 2024 2:34 AM 2 min read
Cars and people with bicycles wait at the Sumskas border crossing point between Lithuania and Belarus on Aug. 12, 2023. (Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images)
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Lithuania will shut down two crossings, the Lavoriskes and Raigardas checkpoints, on its border with Belarus beginning March 1, the government announced on Feb. 21.

Lithuania previously shut down two of its six border crossings in August 2023. The new announcement means that only two checkpoints, Myadininkai and Shalchyninkai, will remain open on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.

The country's Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite called the decision "timely and necessary."

"Large resources are needed to control flows, prevent smuggling, ensure international sanctions, and reduce traffic safety risks," Bilotaite said.

"This decision was also determined by the risks associated with the increased activities of the Belarusian intelligence and security services against Lithuania and our citizens."

The government announced additional limitations at the border, including prohibiting the passage of pedestrians and cyclists at the two remaining crossing points. Passenger boarding and disembarking at two railway checkpoints, one on the Belarusian border and one on the border with Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast, is also barred except in certain cases at the determination of the State Border Guard Service.

Lithuania will also reduce by 50 percent the number of permits it issues to Lithuanian and Belarusian carriers providing international bus transportation.

Fears of aggression from Belarus and Russia have intensified among Baltic states since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia announced on Jan. 19 a plan to build a Baltic defense line to strengthen the eastern border with Belarus and Russia.

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