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June 19 – June 25, 2023
Belarus-West relations

EU Implements 11th Sanctions Package and Prepares 12th, Regime Readies Retaliatory Measures

The situation has gotten better
EU Implements 11th Sanctions Package and Prepares 12th, Regime Readies Retaliatory Measures
Sanctions by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

In the 11th package of EU sanctions against Russia, only two Belarusian individuals were included. In the ongoing efforts towards the 12th package, Poland is advocating for complete synchronization of sanctions targeting both Moscow and Minsk. In response, the regime in Belarus is preparing fresh countermeasures against Western countries. Meanwhile, the democratic forces in exile present their strategy for Belarus to the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopts a resolution urging assistance in resolving specific challenges faced by Belarusians living in exile. Additionally, Ukraine is considering official recognition of Belarus as an aggressor country.

The European Council has officially approved the 11th package of sanctions against Russia, implementing several measures:

  • Strengthening cooperation with third countries to minimize the circumvention of sanctions against the Russian Federation, particularly regarding military and dual-use products.
  • Prohibiting the transit of a wider range of goods and technologies through Russia, including those used in the military-industrial complex, aerospace industry, and production of jet fuel and additives.
  • Implementing export controls on 87 companies, including four Iranian drone manufacturers, and other entities involved in evading sanctions, as well as certain Russian legal entities engaged in the development, manufacturing, and supply of electronic components for the Russian army and military-industrial complex.
  • Expanding the list of sub-sanctioned goods, which now includes additional electronic components, equipment for testing microcircuits, energy-related materials and substances, chemical weapons precursors, optics, navigational devices, and metals.
  • Introducing a ban on the transportation of goods using trailers and semi-trailers registered in Russia, while tightening restrictions on the access of Russian ships to ports, particularly those suspected of facilitating oil embargo circumvention or violating oil price ceilings. The ban also extends to ships that disable their navigational beacons.
  • Prohibiting the supply of Russian oil via the northern branch of the Druzhba pipeline, even for countries such as Poland and Germany that had previously received exceptions. However, the permission to pump oil from Kazakhstan and other third countries through the pipeline remains unaffected.
  • The package of sanctions also encompasses individual measures targeting 87 individuals, including some Belarusian citizens.

 

The sanctions list has been expanded to include Dmitry Pantus, Chairman of the State Committee for Military Industry of Belarus, and Vladimir Mikhailov, Head of BelZhD, the Belarusian National Railways. The justification behind their inclusion states that the State Committee for Military Industry oversees the production of weapons for the Russian Armed Forces through its subordinate enterprises. Pantus, in his capacity, is accused of providing military support to the Russian Federation in its aggression against Ukraine. The European Council holds the belief that Mikhailov supports the transportation of Russian military personnel and cargo.

The European Union has initiated the development of the 12th package of sanctions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland has identified four key priorities in its work on the 12th package. Alongside the prohibition on the import of diamonds from Russia and sanctions against the nuclear industry, these priorities include measures to counteract the evasion of sanctions, particularly in relation to the supply of microelectronics. The fourth priority involves aligning the sanctions regime for Belarus with that of Russia, as Minsk continues to allow the presence of Russian troops on its territory.

Starting from July 3, Lithuania is implementing stricter regulations for the transit of goods through Belarus and Russia to prevent the circumvention of sanctions. These restrictions will impact 57 different product groups.

In the meantime, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has passed a resolution urging countries to provide assistance in resolving specific challenges faced by Belarusians in exile. The resolution particularly focuses on developing mechanisms to facilitate the legal long-term stay of Belarusians in member states of the Council of Europe.

In response to escalating pressure from Western nations, the Belarusian regime is making preparations for new retaliatory measures. Several decisions have already been taken, including the compilation of a list of unfriendly countries, restrictions on technological imports from Western nations, limitations on various food products, and restrictions on the entry of Polish trailers and semi-trailers into Belarusian territory as a response to recent sanctions imposed by Warsaw against Minsk.

However, Belarusian regime maintains limited contacts with Europe, focusing on specific individuals and groups with whom dialogue is deemed possible. This includes a select number of political figures, representatives of business unions, and think tanks.

While the official stance of Minsk asserts its willingness to contribute to the resolution of the war in Ukraine through peaceful negotiations, it expresses doubts about the feasibility of such an outcome. Minsk claims that the negotiations are impeded by the West, which it accuses of supplying weapons to Ukraine and attempting to weaken Russia. These efforts are viewed as “baseless illusions” by authorities in Minsk.

In the meantime, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has introduced a draft law that recognizes Belarus as an aggressor country

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