On Thursday, the EU Council finally approved the fifth sanctions package on Belarus, which was initially given the green light by the foreign ministers of 27 EU countries in mid-November.
Thursday’s blacklist, which marks an asset freeze in the EU and, for people, an EU entry ban, covers 17 people and 11 companies. Most of them were punished for participating in the artificial generation of the migration crisis by the regime of Alexander Lukashenka on the border with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. However, some of them are also an addition to the existing EU sanctions for political persecution against Belarusians. So far, the EU’s Belarusian sanctions list has included 166 people (including Lukashenka himself) and 15 institutions, companies and organizations from Belarus.
Belarus. Sanctions list
The sanctions approved on Thursday include Belavia airlines, which had previously been banned from landing and flying over the territory of the EU (as a result of restrictions following the kidnapping of Roman Protasiewicz). However, now the decision of the Union, including deprives them of the possibility of new leasing contracts for airplanes, for example from Ireland. In addition, the sanctions also apply to the airline Cham Wing Airlines, specializing in charter between Syria and Belarus, and since the summer of this year – by bringing migrants – increased air connections and opened two new offices in Minsk. The capital hotels Minsk and Planeta were blacklisted (where migrants stayed overnight) and the state-owned tourist company Centrkurort, which organized crossings from Iraq – from a visa, through a flight and a hotel in Minsk, to delivery to the EU border.
The sanctions list also includes the chemical plants Grodno Azot, the petrochemical Biełarusneft and the tire plants – Biełszyna. In their case, the justification for EU sanctions, which mean, inter alia, the ban on exports to the EU is not participation in a migration “hybrid attack”, but supporting the Lukashenka regime in its political repression against Belarusians.
In turn, among the people punished with the new sanctions there are, inter alia, Igor Kruczkow and Anatol Łapo from the State Border Committee and several heads of the Border Guard units. However, sanctions also extended to eight officials for their participation in political repression, including judges, prosecutors and Marat Markov, the head of state television ONT.
Sanctions are also imposed by the US, the British and Canada
The United Kingdom has frozen the assets of OJSC Belaruskali, a company owned by the Belarusian state that produces potash fertilizer.
The United States took action against it in August, but has now tightened its sanctions. Other companies that will be hit by the measures taken by Washington are the Belarusian travel company Republican Unitary Enterprise Tsentrkurort, the transport company Transaviaexport Airlines (responsible, among others, for the transport of weapons and ammunition to conflict zones such as Libya) and five companies in the field of defense industry.
The United States also introduced restrictions on Belarus’s management of national debt with the help of American financial institutions. In total, the difficulties are to affect 20 people and 12 enterprises.
“The most recent example of Lukashenka’s disregard for international standards is the soulless smuggling of migrants to EU countries. However, today’s actions are charging Lukashenka’s regime with costs thanks to one of the most extensive sanctions packages related to Belarus to date,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly also announced on Thursday that additional sanctions will be imposed on Belarus in connection with “ongoing and systematic violations of human rights.”
There will be more sanctions against Belarus
The EU is already working on the next, i.e. the sixth, package of sanctions, which may be ready for approval by the Council of the EU (EU ministers) in February 2022. Will it also include new economic sanctions in the event of further escalation at the border or in terms of political repression? ?
Restrictions adopted last summer aimed at Belarusian exports of potassium salt (used in fertilizers), the tobacco and petrochemical industries will begin to hit Belarus the most painfully only at the beginning of 2022 due to the expiry of old business contracts. Some of our interlocutors in Brussels argue that one of Lukashenka’s goals in the “hybrid attack” on the border was to fight these – already formally binding – economic sanctions, the costs of which Belarus will only begin to feel.
EU sanctions against Belarus are being agreed with the British, Americans and Canadians, so it should soon be expected that the fifth package of EU sanctions will entail, inter alia, the expansion of US sanctions.