By erecting fences and closing border crossings, the leaders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are isolating themselves, not us
On September 19th, Latvia closed the border crossing with Belarus. The Silene checkpoint stopped operating at 20:00. Moreover, Latvia delayed until the last minute with the official notification of the closure, deigning to notify Belarus of its, to put it mildly, strange decision only towards the evening. The reason for the closure, according to Latvian sources, was a certain ‘tripling of illegal migration pressure in a short period of time’. Allegedly, ‘in September, employees of the Latvian Border Guard Service prevented 1,773 attempts by persons to illegally cross the Latvian-Belarusian border, and in August, a total of 1,615 attempts to illegally cross the Latvian-Belarusian border were prevented’.
The President of Belarus,
“I don’t quite understand Lithuania and Latvia. Most likely they are just getting ahead of themselves. They should make sure they don’t get crushed by it. They want to show off. But the consequences will be unfavourable for them. If they want to close the borders, they should go ahead and do it. We don’t travel to Lithuania and Latvia anyway, and we don’t work via them. For whom will they make things worse? They will make things worse only for themselves and their own people. They are afraid that their people have started coming to us and see how we live (already under 700 thousand people during this visa-free period).”
During a conversation with journalists during a visit to BSU, August 25th, 2023
They found guilty
The logic of the Latvian explanations is discouraging. What impact might closing a border crossing have on ‘attempted illegal border crossings’? Did the migrants go to Latvia through the border crossing? Then why does Latvia call such border crossing illegal?
And if there is at least a shred of truth in the stories about the ‘flows’ in which the closed border crossing ‘choked’, then all the migrants trying to get to Latvia will now find themselves at the only working border crossing Paternieki (Grigorovshchina — from the Belarusian side)? It turns out that Latvia is creating problems for itself at the only functioning checkpoint. Straight from Gogol, whose non-commissioned officer’s widow punished herself...
Of course, there are no ‘flows of migrants’ at the Silene border crossing and there could not be any. Because, if we talk about illegal migration, it always bypasses border crossings.
But Latvia needs to at least somehow justify its completely illogical actions at the border. No, they would honestly say: Lithuania and Poland are putting pressure on us, demanding closure, so we gave in. And migrants are already a familiar excuse.
However, Poland and Lithuania are really pressing on Latvia: how come they are closing their checkpoints with Belarus, but Latvia is still waiting for something. Now they put the squeeze on. But Latvia, unlike Lithuania and Poland, has only one border crossing left. There will objectively be more work on it now.
The estimated capacity of the Urbany (Silene) border crossing per day is 300 cars, 200 trucks and 1,500 people. It’s one way. During the day, 600 cars, 400 trucks and 3,000 people could cross the border in both directions.
Of course, the number of people entering (or leaving) always fluctuates slightly — depending on the time of year, holidays or weekdays. Recently, on average, about 1,100 people a day went through Urbany (Silene) to Latvia, and about 1,000 entered Belarus. Until the checkpoint was closed on the initiative of Latvia. Where will all these people and transport go now? Through Grigorovshchina (Paternieki), naturally...
The length of the State border of Belarus is 3617 kilometres. We share 1,283 kilometres of border with Russia, 398 kilometres with Poland, 679 kilometres with Lithuania, 173 kilometres with Latvia (1,250 kilometres in total with EU countries) and 1,084 kilometres of border with Ukraine.
There are 24 border checkpoints in Belarus. There are 12 on the border with Ukraine, six each on the borders with Lithuania and Poland, and two on the border with Latvia. Belarus has no border crossings on the border with Russia.
All 12 border crossings on the border with Ukraine are now closed — since February 2022, we are ‘enemies and aggressors’ for Ukraine. Although Belarus has never fought with anyone, nor did it even intend to. An exceptionally peaceful and friendly country. Which, despite Ukraine’s attitude towards it, continues to host Ukrainians who left their country in connection with the special military operation. For many, Belarus even becomes home: people receive Belarusian citizenship and live here forever. But Ukrainians get to Belarus in a roundabout way; our common border with Ukraine is closed and surrounded by rows of barbed wire.
After 2020, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia also started talking about closing their borders with Belarus. Or rather, they didn’t speak — they started shouting. Because Belarus overnight became a ‘terrible threat’ for them, from which they must quickly shut down, without thinking about the consequences.
The first wave of hysteria in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia occurred after August 2020, when self-exiled oppositionists rushed to them. The Belarusian opposition has never been shy, telling the world about the ‘horrors of the Belarusian dictatorship’. And when the oppositionists rushed to neighboring countries, supposedly fleeing repression, the flow of lies intensified significantly. Naturally, our neighbors seized the opportunity and increased sanctions, information, and economic pressure on our country. Under the guise of fighting that very ‘regime’.
And in the spring of 2021, the ‘migration crisis’ happened. Migrants tried to get to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia through Belarus, but they did not let them in — using water cannons, weapons and physical force. And, having become accustomed to blaming anyone but themselves for everything, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia decided that Belarus was behind all this. Although it was our country that provided migrants with food, housing, medical care and was looking for painless solutions to the current situation. Painless for everyone, especially for migrants, among whom there were many women and children.
Under the guise of a ‘migration crisis’, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia began to isolate themselves from Belarus with fences, and in fact cut away yet more billions. Because the fences they build can only interfere with the natural migration of animals.
But who in Europe cares about animals when there is an opportunity to steal something. They don’t even care about people. The media still periodically write about the bodies of murdered migrants transferred to the territory of Belarus from the territory of neighbouring states. Such is the concern and human rights...
With the beginning of the special military operation, relations with Belarus between Poland, Lithuania and Latvia deteriorated completely. We are seen as an aggressor, an assistant and practically a participant in a special operation. Then Ukraine completely closed the border with Belarus.
Belarusians are not enemies of anyone. Despite everything
Following Ukraine, other border checkpoints were closed. Today, on the initiative of Lithuania, Tveriačius (Vidzy — from the Belarusian side) and Šumskas (Losha) are closed. Lavorishkes (Kotlovka), Medininkai (Kamenny Log), Shalchininkai (Benyakoni) and Raigardas (Privalka) continue to operate.
On the initiative of Poland, Kuznica Belostotskaya (Bruzgi), Bobrovniki (Berestovitsa), Polovtsy (Peschatka), and Slavatyche (Domachevo) were closed. There are two border crossings: Kukuryki (Kozlovichi) and Terespol (Brest).
Now Latvia has supported Lithuania and Poland.
Back in August of this year, these three states met and discussed the complete closure of borders with Belarus. Again they remembered about migrants, they supposedly don’t let them live. We decided to close the borders. Then they changed their minds. They said the situation had improved. In fact, they just thought carefully about their economic interests, which the complete closure of the borders with Belarus would hit, and seriously.
And the citizens of these countries are not happy with such measures. And in Poland, elections are just around the corner; they won’t anger the electorate, already accustomed to visiting Belarus without a visa.
After all, ordinary Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians regularly travel to Belarus. They buy food and goods here, and also fill their cars to capacity with gasoline. And when they come home, they say that the authorities of their countries are lying about how bad life is in Belarus. But no one needs such truth, neither in Poland, nor in Lithuania, nor in Latvia.
So they close the borders so that in their European ghetto they can continue to prove to themselves that sanctions against Belarus work and do not kill their own economy, industry, agriculture and citizens...
But Belarus lives, becomes prettier and remains as open and friendly as it has always been. Despite everything. And no closed borders or threats from frantic neighbours will change this. They’re trying so hard in vain.