Ukraine sends barbed wire to Lithuania for Belarus border

Kiev (AFP) –


Ukraine has sent more than 38 tonnes of barbed wire to Lithuania as "humanitarian aid" as the EU country struggles to stem an influx of illegal migrants from neighbouring Belarus, authorities said on Thursday.

In July, Lithuania's military started to put up barbed wire on the Belarus border to deter asylum seekers, most of whom are from the Middle East and Africa.

Lithuania, which has offered support to the Belarusian opposition, has accused the country's strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately encouraging unauthorised arrivals of migrants in retaliation for sanctions against his regime.

"Ukraine has sent humanitarian aid to the Republic of Lithuania for security needs," the emergencies service said in a statement.

The service released pictures of razor wire coils being loaded onto a truck, saying it was the first such shipment and more were expected to be sent in September.

Last week Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on the provision of aid to Lithuania in the form of barbed wire to strengthen the border with Belarus.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said last month that Kiev's assistance was needed because Lithuania was "facing an unprecedented migration crisis" but did not have enough barbed wire.

Last week border guards in Lithuania said they had begun to push back migrants trying to enter illegally from Belarus.

Lithuania's parliament on Tuesday passed a law giving the green light to the construction of a fence along its border with Belarus.

Lukashenko has been cracking down on any form of dissent since mass protests erupted following last year's elections, deemed unfair by the West.

A number of countries including Lithuania and Ukraine have become destinations for the Belarusians fleeing repression in their home country.