On Monday, 24 August, Belarus and Lithuania traded accusations over the release of balloons and their attempt to penetrate the air space of Belarus.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry reported that it had countered an attempted violation of its airspace by “a probe of eight balloons with anti-government symbols” from the side of Lithuania in Oshmyany district, Grodno oblast.
“A probe of eight balloons with anti-governemtn symbols was launched from the Lithuanian territory. Thanks to the action by the crews of Mi-24 helicopters from the air defence forces, the flight of balloons was stopped without using weapons,” the ministry said.
Lithuania, for its part, said a Belarusian military helicopter crossed the Lithuanian state border on 23 August near Medininkai village. Belarusian ambassador Valery Baranovsky was summoned to the foreign ministry and a protest note was handed over the state border violation.
On 23 August, thousands of Lithuanians, including President Gitanas Nauseda and other officials, linked hands in a human chain stretching from the capital Vilnius to the border with Belarus to express solidarity with protesting Belarusians.
“We are with you, free Belarus, and we extend our hand to you,” Nauseda said after linking hands at the border in the Freedom Way human chain.
Several air balloons with a white-red-white flag were launched during the demonstration. Belarus has been shaken by mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory at the presidential election many believe was rigged.
Later today, a video allegedly showing the moment of interception of the baloons in @belvpotelegram Telegram channel appeared. The Belarusian Defense Ministry has not yet confirmed the authenticity of the recording.