March 25 – March 31, 2024
Belarus-West relations

The noose tightens: Poland and the Baltic States take initiative in combating sanctions evasion

The situation has gotten better
The noose tightens: Poland and the Baltic States take initiative in combating sanctions evasion
Фото: Stringer/TASS via Scanpix

The introduction of a synchronized ban by Poland and the Baltic States on the transit of vehicles with engine capacities exceeding 1.9 liters to Belarus demonstrates their readiness to take the initiative in synchronizing sanctions against Moscow and Minsk.

On March 29, Lithuania stopped issuing cars with engine capacities exceeding 1.9 liters to Belarus. Towards the end of last week, such vehicles ceased to be issued from Poland, and later it became known that this also applied to the Latvian border.

Previously, within the framework of sanctions, the European Union banned the export of certain cars to Russia. However, these exports continued to bypass the sanctions through Belarus and other countries, including through the use of false transit schemes. At the same time, all three countries did not officially announce the reason for prohibiting the passage of cars to Belarus.

According to investigators from the “Bureau” project, Poland is among the top three EU countries from which Belarus receives the most cars. Against the backdrop of the war, car deliveries from the EU to Belarus quadrupled – almost reaching EUR 1.5 billion, and last year exceeded EUR 1.7 billion, according to Eurostat data. Most cars are sold to Belarus from Germany, Lithuania, and Poland. In just nine months of last year, almost 60,000 cars were exported to Belarus from these three countries. Against the backdrop of the war, Belarus has become a transshipment base for the delivery of luxury cars worth tens of millions of dollars to Russia, despite the boycott and sanctions.

Representatives of importing companies state that the situation at the border with other goods is the same as with the import of cars. Customs services of Poland and the Baltic States refer to European legislation, which has been amended by EU Council Regulation No. 2024/745 of February 23 within the framework of the 13th package of sanctions. As a result, as of March 23, problems arose with goods crossing the European border and heading to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Turkey, and the UAE. Essentially, this concerns the application of secondary sanctions.

Thus, while the EU is only considering synchronizing sanctions against Russia and Belarus, the Baltic States and Poland are tightening the sanction noose around Belarus, blocking the Kremlin’s attempts to circumvent prohibitions using Belarusian jurisdiction. If the EU refuses to make a decision on synchronizing sanctions at the pan-European level, these countries will likely introduce synchronous restrictions at the national level. Considering that Belarus’s transit and logistical connections with Europe pass through them, de facto restrictions from Russian sanction packages will begin to apply against Belarus.

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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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