The border authority in Belarus has begun setting up temporary checkpoints at its land borders with Russia to screen arrivals from its neighbor, the independent news outlet Zerkalo reported Friday, citing official sources.
Readers told Zerkalo that work on installing the checkpoints began Thursday evening, with guards putting up barriers, barricade tape, and spikes on the M1 highway, a major roadway running from Moscow through Smolensk before reaching the border with Belarus.
The new checkpoints have reportedly led to backed-up traffic stretching several kilometers in length.
There has been virtually no border control between Belarus and Russia since 1995. The two countries, which share a 1,200-kilometer border, both allow their citizens to cross the border without a passport, part of a larger effort to deepen ties between the two nations.
When journalists at Zerkalo called a hotline set up by the Belarus State Border Committee, the country’s main border control authority, they were told that passport checks had been introduced at several border crossings, but only for travelers entering Belarus from Russia.
According to the border authorities, the checkpoints are temporary, though they did not state when exactly the control measures would be lifted, saying only that they would be in place “until further notice.”
The reason for the sudden installation of the checkpoints remains unclear, and Minsk has made no official announcement on the matter.
The move comes amid a recent spate of drone attacks in Russia ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian military counteroffensive, which has prompted Russian officials to cancel Victory Day parades across the country and to beef up security measures.