The Current State of Sanctions on Belarus
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The Current State of Sanctions on Belarus


More than a year after the controversial Belarusian presidential elections in August 2020 which were declared fraudulent by many Western countries, there have been further sanctions placed on the country. These sanctions were put in place in order to target President Alexander Lukashenko who heads the current government in Belarus and his inner circle. Dubbed as “Europe’s last dictator”, Lukashenko has clung onto rule for the past 26 years and after the accusation of tampered election results, the country became a centre of international criticism for the treatment of its citizens. 

Although, historically, Belarus has been under scrutiny by multiple Western nations, it is key to distinguish the importance of the current sanctions made by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom. From June 2021, coordinated sanctions were made by the three powers which together target six economic sectors – petroleum, finance, arms and surveillance technology, potash distribution and Belarus’ highly profitable tobacco-processing business. These specific areas were chosen in order to severely restrict Lukashenko’s financial capacities in the hope that “they will hurt so much that it will bring [his] regime down to its knees” according to Luxembourg’s financial minister, Jean Asselborn. 

Despite rising tensions between Belarus and other Western countries since August 2020, these tough measures were a direct response to the forceful landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in May 2021 in order to detain two journalists, Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega who remain two of many political prisoners currently detained within the borders of this autocracy. The EU have issued the most severe sanctions on trade on all six of these sectors whilst also restricting access to capital markets within the Union, suspending the payment of any existing agreements within the Belarusian public sector and the European Investment Bank, requiring member states to limit financial involvement in Belarus and prohibiting the provision of insurance to the Belarusian government or public bodies. Sanctions by the UK and the USA have generally mirrored those by the EU, but some are of a lesser extent. 

Besides targeting state-owned industries, individuals have also become recipients of strict penalties. The EU has issued asset freezes to 166 persons, the UK 100 and the USA 23. Other than Lukashenko himself, many of his inner circle and family members have been targeted. Among those on the lists are the most notable businessmen Mikalai Varabei who controls a monopoly on Belarusian’s transit of coal and oil industry, Aliaksey Aleksin who has, through presidential decree that allowed him exclusive trade of tobacco and cigarettes, become one of the country’s richest men and Lukashenko’s eldest son, Viktor, who works as a national security aide to his father as well as the newly appointed President of the National Olympic Committee. 

The goal of these new injunctions is to discourage other Western democracies to continue relations with Belarus until the alleged human rights violations and unethical electoral result are addressed, but it is uncertain how effective these regulations will be for a country that has dealt with the imposition and lifting of sanctions throughout the entire Lukashenko regime. Many predict that this will force Belarus to pursue even closer ties to its main ally and largest trading partner, Russia, which could pose further undesirable consequences for the EU or even create a reliance with China to buy their exports. 


Further details about individuals sanctioned can be found by following the below links:

USA Sanctions list as of 9 August 2021

Search any USA Sanctioned individual or company here

UK Asset Freeze Targets as of 8 August 2021

List of entities and goods restricted/sanctioned by the UK 

EU list of Belarusian sanctions (both persons & entities) as of 23 June 2021


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