The fifth package of European sanctions is on the way, the Belarusian regime is becoming toxic even for China

Category status:
- (The situation has deteriorated)
30-05.09.2021
Фото: e-cis.info

The EU’s irritation with the escalation of the migration crisis quickly transformed into a concrete political reaction to prepare the fifth sanctions package against the Belarusian authorities. Minsk is trying to demonstrate optimism without fully feeling the effect of the previously imposed Western sanctions. However, the increasing toxicity of the Lukashenka regime repels not only traditional trade and economic partners in the West, but even China.

In response to the artificial migration pressure created by the Lukashenka regime on the eastern border of the EU, Brussels expectedly began to develop the 5th package of sanctions. A scenario is being considered for strengthening sectoral sanctions and expanding individual lists, which may include prosecutors and judges involved in repressions, those responsible for the migration crisis and the landing of the Ryanair plane in Minsk, propagandists, “wallets” of the regime, and Belavia airline. The EU is also planning to synchronise their own 5th package sanctions with the United States and Canada, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Ukraine and Serbia. At the same time, the migration crisis in the eyes of the EU is increasingly securitised and perceived not so much as a humanitarian problem as in terms of aggression from Belarus.

Although Foreign Minister Makei rejected accusations of a hybrid war on the part of Belarus, shifting responsibility for the migration crisis to the EU, he indirectly stated the futility of attempts to force Brussels through its escalation to direct consultations.

Minsk has not yet noticed a significant impact of sanctions on trade and economic relations with the EU, and remains optimistic about the interest of European business in working in Belarus. However, this optimism may be overshadowed as early as early 2022, when the EU sectoral sanctions and synchronised restrictions of other Western countries against the Belarusian Oil Refining Companies, the Potash and Tobacco Industries, as well as the banking sector will begin to operate in full. A significant decline in GDP (from 6 to 10%) will lead to financial stress, which, taking into account the sanctions affecting the banking sector, is likely to transform into a full-scale economic crisis by the second-third quarter of next year.

As part of the response to the sanctions against Belarus, the Belarusian authorities banned 15 types of German and Polish detergents based on the results of the inspection of the State Control Committee. However, the first attempts to circumvent the sanctions restrictions by transferring export trades in oil products to the Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange from the trading platform of the Belarusian Oil Trading House under sanctions failed and ended without concluded deals.

The increasing toxicity of the Lukashenka regime due to the growing Western sanctions pressure creates risks even for such traditional partners as China, which stopped credit financing for the construction of the Nizhyn Mining and Processing Plant. The reason is Western sanctions against Mikhail Gutseriev, as well as Belarusbank, which is a credit operator through which Chinese money gets to Slavkali. Criticism by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry of the US accusations against China in consealing information necessary to fight SARS-CoV-2 did not help to influence Beijing’s position.

Minsk’s new attempts to signal to the US and the EU its readiness to de-escalate through statements about the importance of relations with Washington and the preparation of a second targeted amnesty remain ignored in Western capitals that require more significant steps. However, the Belarusian regime is unlikely to go for them against the background of the introduction of a new package of sanctions, moreover, not fully feeling the effect of previous sanctions restrictions. Therefore, in the short term, relations with the West will continue to deteriorate.

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