Belarus slams Lithuania’s ‘far-fetched’ checkpoint closures

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Belarus on Wednesday criticized what it called Lithuania’s “far-fetched” decision to close two of its border checkpoints with the Moscow ally, as tensions between Minsk and its EU neighbors rise.

Lithuania said earlier it was “temporarily suspending” two of its six border crossings with Belarus from Friday, citing the security risk posed by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.

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“Lithuania, by taking such decisions, purposefully and deliberately creates artificial barriers on the border to serve its political ambitions,” Belarus’ border force said on social media.

It said the decision would cause traffic queues and lead to long waits at the border, calling the move an “unfriendly step” based on “far-fetched reasons.”

Mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group have been taking refuge in Belarus since their failed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June.

Their presence in Belarus has sparked alarm among Minsk’s western and northern neighbors.

Poland has said it will bolster its eastern border with 4,000 troops supporting the national border agency and another 6,000 in reserve.

Poland and the three Baltic countries, all NATO members, are some of Ukraine’s staunchest allies against Russia and have hosted outspoken critics of longtime Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

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