July 17 – July 23, 2023
Belarus-West relations

The West threatens the regime with The ICC in Hague and new sanctions; the regime responds with talk of nuclear strikes

The situation has not changed

Following another confession by Belarusian officials that they participated in removing Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Belarus, the European Parliament called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Alexander Lukashenka. Due to the deepening involvement of the Belarusian regime in the Russian war against Ukraine by hosting Wagner PMC and the escalation of nuclear rhetoric, the EU intends to introduce new sanctions against Belarus before the anniversary of the Belarusian political crisis triggered by the presidential elections of August 2020.

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Alexander Lukashenka concerning the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. The European Parliament also calls on EU institutions and EU member states to take all necessary steps to ensure the prosecution of Belarusian political and military leaders responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide.

MEPs are also calling for sanctions to be extended to Belarusian and Russian individuals involved in the forced deportation and condemn the role of the Belarusian regime in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. The committee notes that Belarus’s political, economic, military, and cultural subordination to Moscow “de facto turns the country into a satellite state, hosting tactical nuclear weapons under Russian command.”

The committee also calls on the EU not to recognise any agreements between the Lukashenka regime and Russia “which surrender the sovereignty of the country against the will of the Belarusian people.” and advocates a common strategy for preserving Belarusian independence and transition to democracy with the participation the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the G7.

It is noted that the arrival of “Wagnerians” in Belarus creates new risks for Belarus’ neighbours and the EU as a whole. The committee calls for Wagner PMC to be classified as a terrorist organisation with stricter sanctions against the Belarusian regime and expresses regret that some EU countries are lobbying to lift sanctions against Belarusian potash.

MEPs also call on the regime to end discrimination and violence against all minorities and condemn the Belarusian authorities for persecuting ethnic Lithuanians and Poles.

The EU may impose new sanctions by August 9th, the anniversary of the 2020 presidential election. There is also a discussion of another sanctions package related to Belarus’ complicity in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. The European Union has not been able to agree on new sanctions against Belarus for about a year. The following package was assumed to equalise restrictive measures against Belarus and Russia.

The new package includes weapons, dual-use products, aviation components, and persons involved in prosecuting Andrzej Poczobut while maintaining existing restrictions on Belarusian potash.

In response, Minsk again engaged in nuclear rhetoric as the notorious Head of the Belarusian Red Cross Society (BRC) and Z-activist, Dmitry Shevtsov, warned that Belarus possess “vigorous weapons” and is ready to use them.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFCR) then issued a statement condemning Shevtsov’s visit to Donbas and his media statements confirming that the Belarusian Red Cross participated in removing Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied territories. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the ICC to issue a warrant for his arrest.

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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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