Lithuania cancels Covid-19 vaccine donation to Bangladesh after Dhaka stays neutral on Russian invasion
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.
This is outrageous for Lithuania to punish Bangladesh’s 170 million people simply because their government abstained from the UNGA resolution on Russia. https://t.co/mhG3AwYuOM— Michael Kugelman (@MichaelKugelman) March 9, 2022
Lithuania canceled a shipment of Covid vaccines to Bangladesh as punishment for the country abstaining from the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) March 8, 2022
Is this collective punishment one of those civilized European values? https://t.co/Nivyv72dAG pic.twitter.com/8SXDLkwgHQ
"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