Latvia raises alarm as spring sees illegal border crossings from Belarus soar

By Thomas Brooke
2 Min Read

Latvia is experiencing a concerning spike in the number of illegal crossing attempts from Belarus this week, with border chiefs fearing the warmer weather is laying the foundations for another migrant crisis.

As of March 4, a total of 46 migrants were detected trying to cross into the Baltic nation from the neighboring Russian-allied nation — more than half the 75 crossings recorded for the whole of February.

“January and the beginning of February could be described as quiet. However, the past few days show that the number of offenses is increasing again,” warned Latvian border guard chief Guntis Pujats in a televised address on Monday.

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He noted how the wintry conditions had acted as a “deterrent” for those seeking to breach the European Union’s external border, but claimed the migratory route was becoming more active once again.

Like its Baltic neighbors and Poland, Latvia has taken great strides to strengthen its 172-kilometer southeastern border to prevent illegal crossings from Belarus, investing in a considerable border fence and closing the crossing near Silene.

It has accused both Russian President Vladimir Putin and his belligerent ally, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, of engaging in hybrid warfare by facilitating the mass migration of Africans and those from the Middle East to exert political pressure on the European Union.

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In October last year, the Latvian border authority published footage of an unidentified group on the Belarusian side of the border transporting two bodies showing no signs of life to the fence and leaving them there, accusing Belarusian border officials of being behind the provocative and inhumane act.

The Latvian government recorded a total of 13,000 attempted border crossings by illegal migrants last year, up considerably from the 5,300 reported in 2022.

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