July 26 – August 1, 2021
Belarus-West relations

As the EU formulates conditions for the lifting of sanctions, U.S. plans additional sanctions

The situation got worse
As the EU formulates conditions for the lifting of sanctions, U.S. plans additional sanctions

Relations of the regime with the West continue to deteriorate. If the regime does not change its domestic and international policies, the EU and the US will tighten sanctions. Simultaneously, Western states are ready to revise their sanctions policy and return to dialogue with the regime if Minsk fulfils certain conditions.

Changes in the behaviour of the Lukashenka regime is the core requirement for the revision of the EU sanctions policy and the lifting of sanctions against the current Belarusian authorities. Such a scenario assumes that the regime fulfils a list of expectations of the EU, including releasing political prisoners, ending repression and human rights violations and engaging in a broad dialogue with the democratic opposition and civil society through international mediation. As soon as this happens, the EU not only will be ready to lift the sanctions but will also resume the dialogue with Minsk. For the sanctions to be lifted entirely, the Lukashenka regime must hold new free and fair elections. This requirement distinguishes the current list of requirements from the previous requirements set forward by the EU in relations with Belarus during previous crises when even a mild liberalization of public and political life was enough to reset relations.

Otherwise, the EU will be forced to increase the sanctions pressure on Belarus by introducing new sectoral restrictions. An additional reason for their introduction may be an artificially created migration crisis on the border of Belarus with the Baltic countries and Poland, which the Belarusian authorities use as an instrument of pressure on the EU to force the European side to abandon sanctions. The proposals for further sanctions will be considered at the EU Summit on September 21.

The two-week visit of the leader of Democratic Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the United States and her meeting with US President Joseph Biden confirmed the persistence of the Belarusian crisis on the White House’s foreign policy agenda. Washington plans to coordinate its sanctions approach with Western allies, and is considering the expansion of sectoral sanctions to include the oil and potash sectors of the Belarusian economy.

According to the regime, the ongoing repression against civil society and independent media is its response to external pressure from the West. It signals, that at this stage of the crisis, the Belarusian authorities do not intend to fulfil the requirements and meet the expectations of the West. Instead, they have initiated adjustments to Belarus’ foreign policy strategy to neutralize the impact of sanctions on the efficiency of foreign economic activity. Most likely, this will lead to a revision of the ‘foreign trade diversification’ formula at “one third – one third – one third” regarding the markets of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the EU and countries of the “far arc” towards the formula “50 – 25 – 25”, respectively. This revision is largely due to objective global factors and, in particular, reflects the results of foreign economic trade following the results of the “coronavirus” in 2020.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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