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April 15 – April 21, 2024
Belarus-West relations

The USA has directed sanctions at the Belarusian military-industrial complex

The situation has gotten better
The USA has directed sanctions at the Belarusian military-industrial complex
Photo: elements.envato.com

Belarus remains on the Western agenda, despite the complex situation on the Russian-Ukrainian front. The United States is particularly concerned about the support of Russian military efforts by Belarusian defense enterprises, while Europe focuses on pressuring the regime due to ongoing repressions in Belarus. As before, Poland and the Baltic states advocate for stricter restrictions against Lukashenka—this differs from the EU’s position on restrictions against agricultural products of Russian and Belarusian origin.

At the meeting of the foreign ministers of the “Group of Seven” on the Italian island of Capri, the G7 countries condemned Lukashenka’s regime’s complicity in Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as the repression in Belarus—and demanded the release of political prisoners.

In Poland, criminal cases are being investigated against Lukashenka for crimes against humanity, aircraft hijacking, human trafficking, as well as violence and threats. A joint investigative team has been created for this purpose, with members from Poland, Lithuania, and Germany.

The European Council at a special summit in Brussels called on the EU Council and the European Commission to continue work on imposing additional duties on certain imports of Russian and Belarusian agricultural products into the European Union. The EU requested to consider the impact of these countries on the European single market and ensure conditions under which the transit of such goods to developing countries remains unaffected. Meanwhile, Poland and the Baltic states are ready to adopt a ban on the import and transit of such products at the national level.

At the same time, members of the Latvian Seim at the committee level began considering a bill on a complete ban on public (state) procurement of goods from Belarus and Russia.

The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against Belarus. Six state enterprises that generate income for the regime (OJSC “Stankogomel”, OJSC “AGAT-Systems of Management”, OJSC “AGAT-System”, NIIEVM, OJSC “Communication Equipment”, LLC “InnoTech Solutions”), as well as the Chinese Shenzhen 5G High-Tech Innovation Co., were sanctioned. Additionally, five Belarusian citizens involved in facilitating deals for OJSC “Peleng,” already on the US sanctions list, were added to the sanction list. Furthermore, five legal and five physical entities participating in the global arms network and doing business with a Belarusian defense enterprise listed by the US were also sanctioned.

The US State Department also imposed sanctions on the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) for assisting Pakistan in creating ballistic missiles. The decision was made as part of efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Specifically, MZKT was sanctioned for working on providing special chassis for Pakistan’s long-range ballistic missile program. These chassis are used as equipment to support the launch of ballistic missiles by Pakistan’s National Development Complex (NDC), responsible for developing Category I ballistic missiles under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

An American court sentenced Belarusian businessman Sergei Karpushkin to 21 months in prison for participating in a scheme to circumvent sanctions. The case involved two defendants—John (Hurram) Can Unsalan, president of Florida-based Metalhouse LLC, which trades in steel, and Miami resident Sergei Karpushkin, Unsalan’s former business partner. Unsalan and Karpushkin purchased steel-casting equipment and raw materials on behalf of the Ukrainian-Russian oligarch Sergei Kurchenko and his companies, which are under US sanctions.

In turn, Canada expanded sanctions against Belarus due to ongoing human rights violations. The sanctions list included 21 people: current and former high-ranking state officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judicial system employees, and heads of “correctional” colonies involved in violence against Belarusians during peaceful protests.

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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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