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Latvia to build fence along Belarus border

Staff Writer |
Officials in Latvia said that a 120-kilometre (74-mile) border fence with Belarus will be built as soon as a similar fence along the Baltic state’s border with Russiahas been completed in 2018.

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Speaking on Latvian public radio, Olegs Jemasovs, the border guard chief for the southeast Daugavpils region, said 3.7 million euros ($4.3 million) would be spent on securing the country’s eastern borders in 2018, with the total cost of the Belarus fence expected to reach 10.5 million euros.

"The fence will be two metres high with barbed wire on top. It will not be a monolithic fence -- there will be breaks due to natural obstacles such as lakes, swamps and rivers," Jemasovs said.

In 2016, the European Union and NATO member state of two million people started construction of a fence along its border with Russia, to the north of the Belarus border, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The Belarus fence is slated to be finished by the end of 2020.

Officials are keen to stress that the purpose is not military, despite increased tensions with Russia.

Both Russia and Belarus have become people smuggling routes with dozens of illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere arrested each year seeking a back door into the EU.

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