Latvia continues enhanced monitoring of Belarus border

The possible location of the Russian mercenary group Wagner in Belarus raises many questions and also forces Latvia to keep an eye on the border, the President of Latvia and the head of the National Security Council, Egils Levits, told Latvian Television on July 4.

Belarus's hybrid war and the forthcoming NATO summit are among the reasons why Lithuania has introduced top-level border surveillance by tripling its number of border guards. The police, armed forces, and also colleagues from Latvia are attached. In the light of the events of recent weeks, the possible presence of Prigozhin's mercenaries in the neighboring country also raises additional worry for Lithuania.

“There is certainly concern about this type of information about the likely presence of Wagner in Belarus, just next to our country's border. But at the moment, we do not have any relevant information from our intelligence or from our partners on the possible presence of Wagner in Belarus,” said Rustamas Liubajevas, chief of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service.

However, if the Russian mercenaries are indeed in Belarus, much depends on the number of them, said the Chief of the Lithuanian Border Guard. Also the Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński has announced the deployment of an additional 500 police officers in border control.

Latvia's borders are also under increased surveillance. A few dozen people are attempting to come from Belarus every day. However, there is no significant risk regarding Russian mercenaries for the time being.

"As regards the location of Wagner people in Belarus, risks on the border have not increased at this time. Of course we are observing the situation, we also share information with the security authorities, and we also take into account the information they have obtained,” said Deputy Chief of State Border Guard Ivars Ruskulis.

Police officers are also involved in monitoring the Latvian border. If necessary, the National Armed Forces (NBS) group in Latgale is also ready to attach its resources.

“In the context of Prigozhin and the possible escalation of the situation further in Belarus, of course, our intelligence forces [..]are also involved. The presence of NBS on the border may even be tripled in the event of an escalation,” said Interior Minister Māris Kučinskis (United List).

“If it really goes so far that there are 8 or 10 thousand mercenaries out there, then what, will they sit at their base for years? Or what will they do? Will they be in the Belarusian army? Will it be like the Russian armies, let us say, an extension in Belarus? These are all open questions. Therefore, we cannot say anything specifically at this time, because it is all speculation, but we need to follow it closely,” President Levits said.

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