Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, announced on July 1 that it is deploying European border guard teams to Lithuania and Latvia to support border controls with Belarus. This follows a request for support by these Member States in June due to a significant rise in the number of illegal border crossings from Belarus in recent weeks.
The European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps officers will support Latvia and Lithuania in border surveillance and other border management functions. The operation will start with the deployment of 10 officers with patrol cars, and their numbers will gradually be increased.
“The quick deployment in support of Lithuania and Latvia highlights the value of the Frontex standing corps, which allows the Agency to quickly react to unexpected challenges, bringing European solidarity to support Member States at the external borders,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
“The contribution of additional border guards and patrol cars by Frontex, to work side-by-side with their Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues, shows the common determination to protect our external borders,” he added.
In June alone, more than 400 people were detected crossing illegally into Lithuania from Belarus, six times the total number recorded in all of last year. While Latvia has not seen such a spike, it has also asked Frontex for support as a precautionary measure.
Belarus is, as of 2021, the only country in Europe to use capital punishment. The country has seen large scale protests against the government, which in turn has implemented a crackdown on dissent. The most high profile of these has been the diverted flight and subsequent arrest of reporter Raman Pratasevitch.