Tallinn says it will help Vilnius build military-grade obstacles on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border by sending drones and razor wire to its neighbor. It comes amid a surge of Middle Eastern migrants trying to cross into the EU.
Some hundred kilometers (60 miles) of concertina wire will immediately be sent to Lithuania for free, Estonia’s defense ministry announced on Saturday. It has also promised drones for better border surveillance. The move comes as Vilnius is desperate to lock its borders to illegal migrants from the Middle East and Central Asia attempting to cross through Belarus.
Lithuania has previously said it’s facing a full-blown crisis as the number of illegal migrants has multiplied by 30 compared to last year, with almost 2,500 people detained. Having declared a state of emergency earlier this month, it started building a fence, but soon ran out of the military-grade wire.
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Having blamed Minsk for the migrant crisis, the Baltic country appealed to its western neighbours for help. Poland has responded by sending tents and heating facilities. The EU said it won’t be helping with the border wall, but promised to help deal with the influx of migrants financially.
“The European Commission does not fund fences. Our funding is aimed at inclusive solutions to control borders which guarantee that illegal crossings will not remain unnoticed,” its spokesperson has told RIA Novosti news agency. The money should also be used to help shelter migrants, the EU official added.
According to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, his country has been a “barrier” for illegal migration and drugs trafficking from the east. However, after Minsk’s relations with the West deteriorated dramatically and Lukashenko’s government came under a barrage of sanctions, he said Belarus would no longer stem the migrant tides, as it had “neither money nor strength” due to the sanction-inflicted losses. Vilnius has, meanwhile, accused Minsk of using migration flows as a “political tool” and called on the EU to impose even more sanctions on its neighbor.
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