Lithuanian Parliament on Tuesday adopted a resolution, declaring that the recent influx of illegal immigrants is a “hybrid aggression” by hostile states, and that the illegal immigrants should be treated as potential active participants of the aggression.
It comes after Lithuania declared a state of emergency due to the sudden influx of illegal immigrants via neighboring Belarus, which Lithuania accused of flying in migrants from Iraq and sending them across the border into Lithuania, which is an EU member state.
The resolution said that “countries hostile towards Lithuania are carrying out hybrid aggression against the Republic of Lithuania,” and that the coordinated move is aimed at destabilizing the country, according to Lithuania’s public broadcaster LRT.
The resolution also said that “this hybrid aggression can be further developed and exploited and can even be used as a basis for threats of new nature in the context of the large-scale military exercise Zapad,” referring to Russia and Belarus’s quadrennial military exercise due in September this year.
Tensions between Belarus and Lithuania intensified after Belarus intercepted a passenger flight en route to the Lithuanian city of Vilnius and arrested an opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend from the plane in May.
Lithuania has said that Belarus was using illegal immigrants as a weapon after the EU slapped sanctions on Belarus over the plane diversion incident.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent has called on Belarusian authorities to stop the “pressure tactic,” which he said is comparable to migrant flows from Russia to Finland and Norway in 2015.
The Lithuanian resolution on Tuesday urged the government to ramp up protection of the Belarus–Lithuania border, including building a physical barrier and mobilizing the military.
It calls for sanctions against those responsible for organizing the movements of illegal immigrants, treating illegal immigrants with no ID as possible active participants of the coordinated aggression, and placing them in detention or other arrangements.
Women with children, pregnant women, disabled people, and the under-16s will be excluded.
The resolution also set out plans to return the illegal immigrants to their countries of origin, and consulting with NATO member states if the situation deteriorates.
Red Cross and other non-government organizations have protested against the resolution, saying it violates Lithuania’s international obligations and migrants’ rights.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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