Dec 2, 2021 - World

U.S., EU, U.K. and Canada impose new sanctions on Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Grodno in November.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Grodno in November. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada imposed a new round of coordinated sanctions on Belarus "to raise the cost on Alyaksandr Lukashenko and his regime," Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday.

Why it matters: They are the first sanctions since EU officials accused Lukashenko of waging "hybrid warfare" by allowing thousands of migrants to travel from the Middle East to Minsk and then forcing them to Poland's border.

  • At least 12 migrants have died and thousands more have been caught in freezing temperatures along the Belarus-Poland border, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "Today’s actions demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to abuse people seeking only to live in freedom," Blinken said in a statement.

  • "These sanctions are also in response to the [Lukashenko] regime’s callous exploitation of vulnerable migrants from other countries in order to orchestrate migrant smuggling along its border with EU states," he added.
  • The sanctions apply to 20 individuals and 12 entities that "have enabled the regime’s migrant smuggling into the European Union (EU), have taken part in the ongoing crackdown on human rights and democracy, and have propped up the regime financially," the Department of Treasury said.

The big picture: The U.S., EU, U.K., and Canada in June raised sanctions on dozens of Belarusian individuals and entities in response to the government's forced diversion of a Ryanair flight over the summer and its ongoing crackdown against the country's pro-democracy movement.

  • Thursday's sanctions are the third coordinated action against Belarus this year and the fifth time the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Belarus since August 2020, White House press secretary Psaki said Thursday.

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