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June 24 – June 30, 2024
Belarus-West relations

The EU Expands Anti-Russian Sanctions to Belarus

The situation has gotten better
The EU Expands Anti-Russian Sanctions to Belarus
photo: elements.envato.com

After lengthy discussions on the need to synchronize sanctions against Moscow and Minsk, the EU is finally moving in this direction. Brussels has extended restrictive measures from the 12th, 13th, and 14th packages of anti-Russian sanctions to the Belarusian economy. Considering that the Lukashenka regime is not ready to eliminate the factors that triggered the pressure, this trend is likely to continue.

On June 24, the EU introduced the 14th package of sanctions against Russia. It included the Belarusian enterprise “BelOMO” and its director Alexander Moroz, as well as BRSM and its first secretary of the Central Committee Alexander Lukyanov.

It was expected that a more extensive package of restrictions against Belarus would be introduced simultaneously. However, negotiations stalled due to Germany’s position on banning the export of luxury cars to Belarus.

On the same day, the foreign ministers of Russia and Belarus announced their support for initiatives aimed at countering illegitimate sanctions. Nevertheless, by June 26, EU member state ambassadors agreed on a new package of sanctions against the Belarusian economy due to the regime’s involvement in the war against Ukraine.

Brussels states that the comprehensive measures are aimed at mirroring several restrictive measures already in place against Russia. The new restrictions address the issue of circumventing sanctions due to the high degree of integration between the economies of Moscow and Minsk. The new measures also aim to weaken Belarus’s economic and industrial base and limit its ability to develop key sectors.

In general, the EU has introduced additional measures prohibiting the export to Belarus and transit through its territory of:

– “Sensitive” goods and technologies for industry

– Dual-use goods and technologies

– Battlefield goods, firearms, and ammunition

– Goods and technologies suitable for use in oil refining and natural gas liquefaction

– Luxury items

Additionally, the EU has banned the direct or indirect import, purchase, or transfer from Belarus of gold, diamonds, helium, coal, and mineral products, including crude oil.

The most significant restrictions are related to the ban on providing:

– Advertising, legal, accounting, and auditing services

– Architectural and engineering services

– Tax, business, and management consulting services

– Information technology services

– Market research and public opinion polling services

– Product testing and technical inspection services

Furthermore, the ban on transporting goods by road on EU territory with trailers and semi-trailers registered in Belarus has been expanded. The ban also applies to trucks registered outside Belarus but using trailers and semi-trailers registered in Belarus. Restrictions are also imposed on EU operators: a ban on becoming a transport company or transporting goods by road in the EU territory—including transit—for operators who are 25% or more owned by Belarusian individuals or entities.

Measures to counter sanctions circumvention imply that, in addition to transit, EU exporters are required to include a “Belarusian clause” in future contracts. This clause prohibits the re-export to Belarus or use in Belarus of sensitive goods and technologies, battlefield goods, dual-use items, firearms, and ammunition. EU operators selling combat goods to third countries must implement comprehensive verification mechanisms to identify and assess the risks of re-export to Russia and mitigate them. EU parent companies should strive to ensure that their subsidiaries in third countries do not engage in activities leading to consequences that sanctions are designed to prevent.

Thus, after lengthy discussions, Brussels has extended restrictions from the 12th, 13th, and 14th packages of sanctions against Russia to Belarus. This marks the beginning of a gradual synchronization of sanction regimes against the two countries. Replacing Sergei Aleinik with Maxim Ryzhenkov as the new foreign minister is unlikely to stop this trend.

Sanction pressure on Belarus from the EU and other Western countries is being applied on two fronts: due to the political crisis of 2020, migration pressure, and massive repression, as well as the regime’s complicity in the war against Ukraine. Minsk has shown no real willingness to make sufficient and necessary concessions on either front to reduce the sanction pressure.

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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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