NATO to Send Team to Address Migrant Influx Stoked by Belarus
(Bloomberg) -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will send a team to Lithuania to help counter the influx of migrants entering illegally and with the aid of the Belarusian government.
NATO’s Counter Hybrid Support Team will assist with analysis, risk assessment and communication strategies, according to a statement from Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who requested the intervention. The team is scheduled to arrive in September.
Some 4,000 migrants, mainly from Iraq, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally over the past three months, 50 times more than in all of 2020. Critics say the arrivals are part of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s strategy to retaliate over European Union sanctions against his government because of his crackdown against pro-democratic opposition.
Lukashenko, who has threatened to stop policing the flow of drugs, guns, people and nuclear material to the EU, denies these allegations.
“Let’s be clear, the situation that Lithuania faces is not a migration crisis,” Landsbergis said. “It is a well-organized, cynical, hybrid operation that Lukashenko implements in revenge for Lithuania’s principled support for Belarusians fighting for the democratic future of their country.”
The NATO team will be composed of a small group of experts, according to a NATO official.
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