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NATO secretary general and European Commission president to visit Lithuania

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NATO secretary general and European Commission president to visit Lithuania

Photo: Sarunas Mazeika/Delfi

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen are set to meet with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda today amid the migrant crisis on the Lithuanian-Belarussian border.

Roughly 15,000 migrants are present in Belarus, with 2,000 currently camped along the Lithuanian border. The EU accuses Belarus of pushing migrants toward Belarus’ borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for continued EU sanctions—imposed following Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed election victory last year. Earlier this month, Lithuania began constructing a border wall to deter migrant crossings from Belarus, threatening to close its border if migrant smuggling persists.

As the humanitarian situation deteriorates on the border, expect today’s meeting to address both provision of humanitarian aid to migrants and border security. In the short-term, expect aid delivery to take priority, given the threat of winter weather to migrant camps. In the medium- to long-term, expect NATO’s operations in Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, including intelligence-sharing and troop deployment, to increase in an effort to improve border security. However, NATO mobilization will likely raise regional tensions given Russia’s growing military cooperation with Belarus, turning the migrant situation into a catalyst for a potential NATO-Russia confrontation.

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Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

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