November 20 – November 26, 2023
Belarus-West relations

Undermining the OSCE while promoting conflict resolution: Ukraine Imposes Sanctions

The situation has not changed
Undermining the OSCE while promoting conflict resolution: Ukraine Imposes Sanctions

Minsk and Moscow are strategically working together to disrupt the activities of the OSCE, specifically blocking Estonia’s bid for chairmanship. This collaborative effort aims to tarnish the reputation of the OSCE as a conflict resolution mechanism in Europe and push for alternative Eurasian formats and organizations. Despite these endeavors, Minsk continues to assert itself as a neutral negotiation platform for addressing conflicts and crises, though its influence appears limited, as evident from Ukraine’s recent imposition of sanctions.

Russia and Belarus jointly opposed Estonia’s nomination as chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This move, anticipated since the end of May, was justified by Minsk due to the observed deterioration in the quality of interstate dialogue within the OSCE in recent years. The shift from diplomatic compromise to sanctions, isolation, and intimidation prompted the Union State to take this stance.

Criticism is directed at Estonia’s leadership for violating the fundamental principle of interstate relations — respect for sovereignty and independence of individual OSCE members. Estonian officials are also reproached for opportunistically endorsing statements about increasing pressure on Belarus, advocating for its isolation, and supporting tighter sanctions. According to A. Lukashenko, the OSCE and the UN are evolving into institutions of pressure and confrontation.

The absence of an OSCE chairmanship for 2024 raises concerns about a potential crisis or collapse of the organization, favoring Russia and Belarus in their push for an alternative security architecture in Eurasia.

One potential solution to the institutional crisis is to extend North Macedonia’s chairmanship of the OSCE for another year. Some countries, especially the Baltic states, support transferring the chairmanship to a country other than Estonia as a concession to Russia. Minsk and Moscow, however, prefer a non-NATO member country. Malta and Austria are considered acceptable candidates — conditionally friendly states that often act as informal intermediaries and even lobbyists for Belarus and Russia in the West.

Despite hopes for diplomatic resolution through friendly mediators, the primary obstacle remains the impact of harsh Western sanctions. Even Serbia finds itself compelled to follow this course. Lukashenko has tasked the new Belarusian Ambassador to Serbia, Sergei Malinovsky, with examining Belgrade’s policy and determining whether Serbia intends to cooperate with Minsk or align itself with European-American sanctions against Belarus.

Another diplomatic avenue for Minsk is the Vatican. On November 24, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik met with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Ante Jozic to discuss the international situation, including ongoing efforts to resolve regional conflicts.

In a meeting with the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Belarus, Ahmed Mohammed al-Madbouh, Aleinik shared Belarus’s position on the Middle East, emphasizing a peaceful settlement of the conflict through political and diplomatic means based on UN resolutions, leading to the creation of two states for two peoples.

Meanwhile, Kyiv continues to impose sanctions against the Belarusian regime, despite Lukashenko’s apparent commitment not to send Belarusian soldiers to fight against Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky signed decrees introducing two sets of sanctions, affecting more than 300 legal entities and almost 150 individuals. The sanctions also targeted three Belarusian enterprises and one official (TechnoKhimReagentBel LLC; BelGIPS OJSC; VOLMA BEL Corporation LLC; Director of the Belarusian Railway Vladimir Morozov). This decision complements restrictions on those who work for or facilitate Russian aggression.

Additionally, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported the National Security and Defense Council’s decision to impose economic sanctions on the defense industry of Belarus and Russia for a period of 50 years.

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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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