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Lithuania starts building first European wall to ward off migrants from Belarus

Workers install four-meter-high fence on Belarusian border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

Lithuania has built the first stretches of a steel wall on its border with Belarus since migrants from the Middle East and other areas began entering from Belarus this year.

The European Union accuses Belarus of deliberately encouraging the migrants to enter EU states Poland, Lithuania and Latvia via Belarusian territory as a way of putting pressure on the bloc.

Belarus has repeatedly denied this but its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has said his country would no longer stop the migrants since EU sanctions drain resources.

All three EU countries have put stretches of razor wire on the border to stop the migrants. Last week Lithuania began putting up the first stretches of the 3.4-metre (11-foot) high steel fence, topped with 0.6 metres (2 feet) of razor wire.

Workers install a four-meter-high fence on the Belarusian border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

Workers install a fence section on the Lithuania - Belarus border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

Workers install four-meter-high fence on Belarusian border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

Belarusian and Lithuanian border mark poles are seen near a four-meter-high fence on the Belarusian border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

Belarusian and Lithuanian border mark poles are pictured near a four-meter-high fence on the Belarusian border in Druskininkai, Lithuania November 4, 2021. REUTERS-Janis Laizans

“It’s probably impossible to build a totally unpassable obstacle, so I think that this barrier can too be overcome. But that would take a long time, and we would be able to react”, said Virgilijus Raugale, the chief border guard in southern Lithuania.

Lithuania has allocated 152 million euros to build 500 kilometres (300 miles) of the wall by September next year. The wall is supplemented by a 3-metre high heap of coiled razor wire next to it and video surveillance equipment.

More than 4,000 migrants entered Lithuania from Belarus this year before August when the country resorted to sending almost all entering migrants back to Belarus. Over 5,600 migrants were prevented from entering since then, the border guard service said, including 2,300 who tried to enter in October.

Meanwhile, the Polish Defence Ministry said on Thursday, that Belarusian soldiers threatened to open fire on Polish troops just across the border, in what it said was an attempt to escalate a crisis over migrants at their common frontier.

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