Western sanctions pressure increases
Last week, the United States and the European Union announced tougher sanctions against Belarus. On June 21st, the fourth package of EU sanctions was adopted.
On June 16th, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the European Union agreed on new sanctions against Belarus. According to unconfirmed reports, an additional 80 Belarusian officials and 7 enterprises will be banned from entering or trading with the EU. Based on comments by the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell, these measures were likely to target those involved in the Ryanair incident. EU procedures require that these measures be ratified by the EU Council before taking effect. This could happen as early as the beginning of next week.
On June 17th, speaking at the GLOBSEC-2021 Bratislava Forum, US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland announced that the United States is also preparing to impose new sanctions on Belarus. Nuland stated that, like Europe, the United States has already re-imposed sanctions against Belarus (related to petrochemical companies) and added: "I think you'll see more next week."
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei responded at a press conference on June 18th in Moscow following talks with Sergei Lavrov, declaring that: "We have developed a concrete package of retaliatory measures. I am convinced, given that Belarus is not alone and that there are many allies and partners who are ready to always support us, we will undoubtedly survive. But where will the European Union be at this time, where will its interests be? I would advise that no-one to worries too much about sanctions. Yes, we understand that this will create some difficulties for the leadership of Belarus, but believe me, the government and the president of Belarus will do everything to protect people during this difficult period and minimise any negative consequences."
On June 21, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya participated in the EU Foreign Affairs Council. On the same day, the foreign ministers of the EU countries approved the fourth package of sanctions against Belarus. The sanctions were introduced against 78 people and 8 organizations. They include the members of the Lukashenka family such as his son Viktar and his daughter-in-law Lilia, judges who participated in the political repressions, the chairman of the investigative committee and deputy prosecutor generals, heads of the enterprises who fired workers for political reasons, businessmen who profit from Belarusian state-owned enterprises, including the Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev, four deputies, and propagandists. The following companies are now under EU sanctions: Beltechexport, Dana Service, Department of Presidential Affairs, Synesis, AGAT, 140th Repair Plant, Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant. Most of the sanctioned companies are related to the arms trade.