The EU imposes additional economic sanctions
Last week, the EU intensified sanctions pressure on Belarus by adopting a fourth package of sanctions against individuals and entities and entire sectors of the Belarusian economy.
On June 21st, the EU Council approved a decision previously agreed by the Council of Ministers of the EU member states, adding 78 individuals and 8 enterprises (including MAZ and BelAz) to the existing list of sanctioned entities. According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the purpose of sanctions is to "financially drain the [Belarusian] regime."
The United States, Great Britain and Canada also amended their sanctions lists in unison.
In a separate decision on June 24th, sectoral sanctions against oil, potash, tobacco, banking and some other sectors of the Belarusian economy were similarly approved. These measures severely limit Belarus' trade relations with EU countries, including constraints on transit, investment, and technology. The EU Council decision clarifies that these measures respond to both ongoing human rights violations in Belarus (including repression of civil society, journalists and the democratic opposition) and the forced landing of a Ryanair plane and abduction of Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapieha.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry reacted by issuing a strongly worded statement characterising these measures as "a treacherous joint attack on the Belarusians by the EU, the United States, Great Britain and Canada." The statement also protests that "these decisions were made so hastily and prejudicially that the EU leadership did not even consider it necessary to wait for the conclusions of the ICAO [investigation]" and warns that retaliatory steps will be taken in the coming weeks.
This position was reiterated by Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka, who declared that after a close study of the text of sanctions by the relevant service, the most appropriate reciprocal measures would be decided. This is likely to take the form of restrictions on the operations of Western businesses in Belarus, but some asymmetric measures were also announced, the specifics of which have not yet been disclosed.