June 3 – June 9, 2024
Belarus-West relations

Stalled 14th Sanctions Package, Updated U.S. “Democracy Act”, and Food War with the European Union

The situation has not changed
Stalled 14th Sanctions Package, Updated U.S. “Democracy Act”, and Food War with the European Union

The implementation of the 14th sanctions package and the synchronization of restrictions against Russia and Belarus are being postponed due to the particular stance of Germany and France. The European Union is raising tariffs on Belarusian and Russian agricultural products, while the food wars between Minsk and Vilnius escalate, affecting the interests of ordinary citizens. The deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus is a focus for both the UN and the USA.

The approval of the new EU sanctions package against Belarus may be delayed due to disagreements among EU countries over restrictions on the supply of luxury cars. The sanctions against Belarus were intended to be largely synchronized with the Russian ones in the 14th package, including the supply of luxury cars. However, Germany and France have opposed such measures. These disagreements have caused European politicians and diplomats to consider not implementing sanctions against Belarus simultaneously with Russia.

The new package of restrictions against Minsk includes a ban on:
– The supply and transit of dual-use goods and technologies
– The import of diamonds
– The supply of luxury cars and luxury items
– The provision of various services
– The entry of trailers and semi-trailers,
as well as restrictions in the financial sector and on the supply of oil and oil products.

Meanwhile, the EU has indeed increased customs duties on grain from Belarus and Russia. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Nazaruk immediately accused Brussels of trying to eliminate competitors and threatened to examine how the European Union fulfills its WTO commitments and take retaliatory measures that the EU partners will not like. Additionally, on May 21, the Belarusian government expanded the list of goods banned from import and sale in Belarus, including beer, cosmetics, cleaning products, and other goods from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia, as these countries, according to the government, were the main initiators of the duty increase.

In response to recent restrictions on food imports in Lithuania, imposed by Vilnius against Belarusians and Russians, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry summoned the chargés d’affaires of Lithuania and the European Union. Although these measures were later softened (allowing the import of goods in opened packages), the press service of the Ministry called the situation at the border with Lithuania “arbitrary” and a violation of “fundamental human rights to humane treatment.” The Belarusian side also accused Lithuania of artificially creating queues and trying to redirect the effect of sanctions to ordinary Belarusian citizens, as well as residents of Lithuania who use Belarusian visa-free access.

In turn, the U.S. Congress is preparing to adopt the updated version of the “Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2024.” This document calls on:
– Not to recognize the Lukashenko regime and support free and fair elections in Belarus in accordance with OSCE standards, including the 2025 presidential elections;
– To recognize the Coordination Council and the United Transition Cabinet as legitimate institutions for dialogue on the peaceful transfer of power and support them in this process;
– To raise the issue of depriving Belarusian citizens of consular services abroad with international organizations;
– For the U.S. government to closely cooperate with the EU, the UK, Canada, and other countries and organizations to continue imposing targeted sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.

The adoption of this document is further justified by the continuously deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, as recorded in the latest report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anais Marin, covering the period from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024.

The report states that the human rights situation in Belarus continues to worsen due to a deliberate policy of suppressing dissent. It notes that there are repressions against real and alleged opponents, arbitrary verdicts are issued, Belarusians in exile are persecuted, civil society is being liquidated, and society, including youth and children, is being militarized. The Special Rapporteur notes that Belarus’s connection with Russia has strengthened against the backdrop of international isolation, and Belarus’s internal legal framework has been adjusted to justify repression and persecution of dissenters both within the country and abroad.

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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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