overall scale of irregular migration at the 6000-kilometre-long land border
between Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the eastern EU Member
States - Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia
and Romania – has been much smaller than on other migratory routes. However,
this path to Europe still presents significant challenges for border control
and in 2021 experienced unprecedented migratory pressure.
the Eastern land borders, a record of 8184 illegal border-crossings were
detected in 2021, a more than tenfold increase in comparison to 2020.
significant increase in detections can be traced to a migrant crisis
artificially created by the Lukashenko regime: there was intense migratory
pressure with continuously attempted border crossings in all three EU Member
States neighbouring Belarus, prompting them to declare a state of emergency.
of migrants seeking to reach Europe through this route peaked in the second
half of the year.
the summer of 2021, Frontex deployed teams of European standing corps to
Lithuania and Latvia to support the countries with responding to the increased
In 2020, the number of reported
cases of illegal border-crossings on this route decreased slightly to 677.
There were small absolute increases
in arrivals from Belarus and Moldova, but at low levels. In either case the
additional detections did not involve nationals of these two countries.
Notably, the political instability in Belarus had no significant impact on the
EU’s external borders in 2020.
year 2019 saw a one third drop in detections of illegal border crossings at the
Eastern land borders, resulting in a total of 722 detections.
of Turkey, Vietnam and Ukraine were among the most detected nationalities.
Vietnamese arrivals experienced a drop of 83% compared to the previous year.
number of detections increased to 1084 in 2018, around a quarter more than in the
increase was partly due to migrants abusing the FIFA Fan ID issue by Russian
which allowed travellers visa-free entry to Russia, from where, coming also via
Belarus and Ukraine, the migrants attempted to enter the EU illegally.
Vietnamese nationals represented the largest portion of illegal
border-crossings at the Eastern Land Border route, followed at a distance by
Iraqis, Russians and Turks.
In 2017, the Eastern land border
reported 872 detected cases of illegal border crossings, significantly lower
than in the previous years. In particular, at the land borders with Russia the
numbers dropped, indicating that the Russian authorities continued successful
cooperation with the respective Member States’ local authorities in preventing
border crossings. More than one-third of detected migrants were Vietnamese
citizens this year.
2016, 1384 detections were reported, roughly in line with the average annual
numbers recorded since 2008. About a quarter of these detections involved nationals
from neighbouring countries, mostly Ukrainians, Russians and, to a lesser
extent, from Belarus and Moldova. Most of them crossed the land border
with Ukraine. Most of these cases were associated either with smuggling or
other reasons not related to migration.
migration was the main reason for crossing the border illegally for both
Vietnamese and Afghans.
2015, 1920detections occurred on this route.
year a temporary route of illegal migration opened up between October and
December: the so-called Arctic route through Russia where
about 6 000 asylum applicants were counted between October and December. Most
were originally from Afghanistan and Syria. By the end of December 2015, the
Russian authorities begun refusing travellers the permission to transit their
country without Schengen visas, thus stopping the flow.
More information about the Eastern land borders route is available in Frontex’s annual risk analysis reports.
Illegal border crossings on the Eastern European Land borders in numbers.
For more information on this and other migratory routes, see Frontex Risk Analysis reports