Latvia: State Border Guard proposes closing checkpoint on Belarus border

Latvia’s State Border Guard (VRS) has asked the government to close the Silene checkpoint on the country’s border with Belarus due to a sudden surge in illegal border crossings in recent weeks, LSM reports. Latvia has two checkpoints on the Belarus border at Silene and Patarnieki. The Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS), the State Police, and Lithuanian border guards are assisting VRS in securing the border. Guntis Pujats, head of VRS, said that the border violations were being driven by human smuggling operations sponsored by the Belarusian regime. He said that closing the Silene border checkpoint would serve as a signal to Belarus that travel and relations could not continue as normal amid ongoing hybrid attacks against Latvia. Earlier, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland warned that they could close their borders with Belarus completely if the situation continued to deteriorate. Latvia has turned back more than 7,800 people on the Belarus border so far in 2023.