Lithuania cancels Covid-19 vaccine donation to Bangladesh after Dhaka stays neutral on Russian invasion

Lithuania cancels Covid-19 vaccine donation to Bangladesh after Dhaka stays neutral on Russian invasion
2 min read
09 March, 2022
Bangladesh joined more than 30 other countries in abstaining from voting on a resolution deploring Moscow's horrific invasion of Ukraine. Lithuania, which was once part of the USSR, has cancelled a donation of around 500,000 vaccines in response.
Only around half of Bangladesh's population has been vaccinated against Covid-19. (Getty Images)

Lithuania has cancelled a donation of nearly half a million Pfizer vaccines to Bangladesh after Dhaka refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly on 2 March.

Vilnius had only pledged the donation last week but backtracked after the vote at the General Assembly but Rasa Jakilaitienė, a representative of the Lithuanian prime minister, has said this will no longer go ahead.

Lithuania's actions have been criticised by dozens of social media users, many of whom have called it "outrageous" and argued that the people of Bangladesh will suffer from the government's neutral stance on the war in Ukraine. 

Only around half of Bangladesh’s population has received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Thirty-five countries, including Bangladesh, abstained from voting on the motion which "deplores in the strongest terms the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine".

The resolution was supported by 141 of the UN's 193 members, including Lithuania. 

"The Lithuanian Government‘s decision to donate COVID-19 vaccines remains in force. Lithuania keeps continuing the process of COVID-19 vaccines donation," the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The New Arab

Analysts say that Dhaka's neutral stance makes sense for a low-income nation that is increasingly reliant on maritime trade.

Bangladesh has already been impacted by the war in Ukraine after an unidentified missile on 2 March destroyed one of its ships in the Black Sea, killing one sailor. 

Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and forced at least two million people to flee the country. Former Soviet states, such as Lithuania, are watching the developments closely, and its president has expressed nervousness about Moscow’s "reckless aggression in Ukraine".

The New Arab has reached out to the embassy of Bangladesh in London for comment. 

Editors note: this piece was altered to include a response from the Lithuanian government