Austria has ordered four armored vehicles and 750 soldiers to move near the Italian border to stop migrants entering.
The country, which has experienced about 90,000 migrants – mostly from Muslim-majority countries outside Europe – arriving since 2015 took the unprecedented measures this week.
Government officials confirmed Tuesday that armored vehicles without weapons were sent near the Italian border and have troops on standby who could be deployed within 72 hours in the case of emergency, MailOnline reported.
“These are not battle tanks. These are armoured vehicles without weapons which could block roads,” a government spokesman said. Such vehicles were used during the migrant crisis in 2015 when Austria moved them near the border with Slovenia.
The decision to move the vehicles was criticized by the Italian government, which summoned Austria’s ambassador to explain the increasing military presence.
The officials are also considering setting up border control at the Alpine Brenner Pass to tackle the migrants crossing from Italy.
An Austrian defense ministry spokesperson said such controls would include the key trade pass – a controversial move slammed by the Italian government last year, branding it illegal under EU freedom of movement rules.
“I expect border controls will be introduced very soon,” Defense Minister Peter Doskozil said during an interview with daily newspaper Kronenzeitung on Tuesday.
A spokesman claimed there’s no actual timetable for setting up new border controls, which will depend on how Italy deals with the migrant crisis.
“We see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015,” the spokesman said.