On Monday, 24 August, the press service of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus informed that on the evening of August 23, an attempt to violate the state border in the airspace of Belarus from Lithuania was suppressed in the area of the Kamenny Log border crossing.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry claimed it used Mi-24 military helicopters to stop eight air balloons “with anti-state slogans” from crossing the border during the Freedom Way demonstration in Lithuania.
“A probe of eight balloons with anti-state symbols was launched from the adjacent territory. Thanks to the actions of the crews of the Mi-24 helicopters, the flight of balloons was stopped without the use of weapons,” said the ministry.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania the Belarusian Mi-24 helicopter flew into Lithuania’s territory near Medininkai on 23 August at 18.50 p.m.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said that ‘Belarus breached Lithuanian airspace’.
“Their [Belarusian] helicopter breached our airspace and the Belarusian ambassador was presented with a strict note of protest,” L. Linkevičius.
According to Linkevičius, the Belarusian military helicopter was spotted near Medininkai, a Lithuanian town close to the border.
“It was seen visually. We have all the information from our air traffic controllers [confirming] that there has been a violation,” he said.
On 24 August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania summoned the Ambassador of Belarus to Lithuania Valery Baranovsky and handed him a protest note regarding a violation of the state border of Lithuania.
In turn, the Ministry of Defence of Belarus has denied the statements of Vilnius about the violation of the state border of Lithuania by helicopter.
“I consider the actions of our pilots to be in full compliance with our and international legislation. Our pilots operated in the airspace of our state, this is recorded in the material of objective control. There was no violation of the state border of the Republic of Lithuania,“ said Alehas Orlov, Acting Deputy Commander of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces.
He also said that the Ministry of Defence considers the incident with the balloons as a provocation from the Lithuanian side.
According to A. Orlov, although “it may seem to an ordinary person that this fact is insignificant, any border of any state is inviolable”.
He claimed that “those seemingly harmless balloons pose a threat to flight safety” and said “no one knows what kind of cargo those balloons carry”.
“It can be very diverse: explosives, toxic substances and so on,” Orlov said.
The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed a note of protest over the incident at the border to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lithuania to Belarus Andrius Pulokas on 24 August, the ministry’s press service told.
The Belarusian source BelTA noted: “According to the available data, an aerial object was launched from the Lithuanian territory on 23 August 2020. The object violated the state border of Belarus and went 3km inside the country’s territory.”
According to Belarusian source TUT.by, while this video has not been verified, but number of balloons are the same as in the statement of Belarusian side.
Perhaps this fact is a planned provocation.
However, such provocations and statements by representatives of the political leadership of Lithuania from the point of view of international law are direct Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of Belarus.
Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of their Independence and Sovereignty, UN Doc. A/2131 (XX) (1965 Declaration).
The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states is one of the fundamental principles of modern international law. Sovereign states shall not intervene in each other’s internal affairs. It is the general principle of contemporary international law that the non-interference in each other’s internal affairs is based on the respect for states’ sovereignty and territorial integration, which governs the relations between states in regard to their rights and obligations. It has been established as the general principle of international law or customary law in compliance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
In addition, the states are prohibited to perform actions that present threat to the world peace and security.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.