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March 28 – April 3, 2022
Belarus-West relations

The Belarusian regime condemns itself to sanctions and blockades from the West

The situation got worse
The Belarusian regime condemns itself to sanctions and blockades from the West
Колонны военной техники въезжают в Украину через пограничный переход с Беларусью. Скриншот из видео CNN

Following the failure of the Russian blitzkrieg against Ukraine, the Belarusian regime – instead of looking for a way out of the situation – is doing everything possible to make it worse. Classifying Belarus as an aggressor country creates conditions for organising a blockade, supplemented by new sanctions from the West. Under these conditions, a complete reorientation of trade and economic ties to the East looks like an unrealistic scenario.

The Ukrainian authorities’ explicit recognition of Belarus as an aggressor country opens the door to the nationalisation of Belarusian property in Ukraine and a full-fledged blockade in cooperation with the Baltic countries and Poland.

These events develop due to the actions and statements of the Belarusian regime, which, instead of looking for ways out of the war, aggravates the situation by openly supporting Russian aggression. Lukashenka once again endorsed the so-called “special military operation” of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and stated that the West wanted to cut off Belarus from Russia so that it could not carry out this operation.

In the coming days, the US Department of Commerce will impose sanctions on 120 organisations from Russia and Belarus due to aggression against Ukraine. Significant US financial sanctions will have serious economic consequences for the “Axis” countries. Export controls and airspace restrictions will deprive Russia and Belarus of access to critical technologies, damage their industrial base, and obstruct strategic goals to expand influence in the international arena.

The Secretariat of the British Government has issued guidance requiring the British public sector to revise its contracts with Russian and Belarusian companies.

The Australian government has increased duty by 35% on all imports of goods from Russia and Belarus; the “most favoured nation” status is revoked.

The European Union and the United States held a meeting of a group created last summer to coordinate action against Russia and support other countries in the region, including the democratic forces of Belarus.

In response, Minsk is making frantic attempts to avert an impending blockade by reorienting trade and economic ties to the East and engaging American lobbyists to ease sanctions against the Belarusian potash industry. The primary focus is full use of Russian seaports, particularly the multifunctional Bronka port complex in the Leningrad region. New routes are also being investigated, including Astrakhan, Novorossiysk, and Vladivostok. Shipment of products through Georgia and Iran is also possible since Africa and Asia are important priorities for the Ministry of Industry.

Despite Minsk’s attempts to position Belarus as an important transport hub on the China-Europe-China route with an emphasis on the development of the Great Stone Industrial Park, Bejing is unwilling to support the Belarusian regime in the context of the war against Ukraine, which undermines plans to promote the Belt and Road Initiative. Consequently, Minsk attempts to reorient itself to India, discussing the prospects for the supply of BelAZ quarry equipment. However, cooperation with India is contingent on the United States consenting to engagement with Belarus (several exceptions have already been received for Russia) and resolving logistical problems delivering industrial goods and potash fertilisers. However, the easing of US sanctions against the Russian potash industry, in contrast to Belarus, will also impede supplies politically.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of leading Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries to the most topical and relevant issues, including on behind the scenes processes ongoing in Belarus, in Russian and English.
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