MINSK, August 9. /TASS/. Lithuania is deliberately provoking Minsk into a reaction at the border, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday.
"If they don’t calm down at the borders, they will get an all-out sock on the jaw because they are staging these actions at the border deliberately. They are trying my patience and are pushing me towards a reaction. So far, we are tolerating this," he said at a meeting with journalists and public activists.
He called on Lithuania to think about how to get out of this situation. "Let us sit down, reflect and think about how to get out of this," he said. "You are not supported even in Lithuania, even by Lithuanian border guards. Border guards <…> on the opposite side don’t want this scuffle either."
Since August 3, Lithuania has been taking tough measures to combat illegal migration after the country’s interior ministry had granted extended competencies to the border service. Last week alone, Lithuania stopped about 700 illegal migrants at the border and forced them back to Belarus. Some 300 people more were expelled to Belarus over the weekend.
More than 4,000 illegal migrants have been detained at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border since the beginning of the year, which is 50 times as many as in 2020. In late May, Lukashenko said that his country has served as a barrier on the trafficking route of illegal migrants to Lithuania but, amid Western pressure, Minsk might stop performing this function.