- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) - Lithuania has announced it will begin construction on a fence on its border with Kaliningrad, the small Russian exclave bordering the Baltic Sea. The 130-kilometer (80-mile) barrier will stand 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall and will include electronic surveillance systems and drones.

While hundreds of thousands of Russian troops and military equipment are based in Kaliningrad, Lithuania presented the move as a way to fight endemic smuggling.

“We have to prevent smuggling and strengthen the external borders of the European Union. We understand well what is going on in the Russian exclave,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Almost a million cigarette packs were smuggled last year from Russia and Belarus according to the Lithuanian interior ministry.

The fence is expected to cost 3.6 million euros ($3.85 million) and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

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