Tue, 26 Oct 2021

VILNIUS, Lithuania: Lithuania's government said work on the first section of a fence along its 420-mile border with Belarus, which will begin this month, should be completed by April.

The fence, which seeks to stop migrants from the Middle East and Asia from crossing the border, measures 70 miles and is topped with razor wire.

More than 4,100 migrants entered Lithuania this year, causing tension between the European Union and Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is accused by the EU of sending migrants over the border in retaliation for sanctions following the crackdown on the country's political opposition.

Construction of the first section of the fence, costing $42 million, will be performed by state-owned power and gas grid company EPSO-G.

An EPSO-G spokesperson said the four-meter high fence will be topped off with razor wire.

The remaining 240 miles of the fence will be completed by September 2022, with areas along rivers and lakes not being walled off.

Along with Lithuania, fellow EU members Poland and Latvia have also witnessed increased numbers of migrants illegally crossing their borders from Belarus this year. Since August, all three countries have pushed back migrants into Belarus, significantly reducing their numbers.

On Monday, Russia was accused by Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas of working with Belarus to intensify the migrant crisis.

After meetings with his Baltic and Polish counterparts at the Adazi military base in Latvia, Anusauskas told reporters, "We are convinced that, from the start, Belarus has coordinated its actions with Russia."

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