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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.

Go deeper: Migrants freezing to death on EU frontier

Go deeper

Senate Democrats sink Ted Cruz's bill to sanction Nord Stream 2

Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday failed to pass a bill sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, after the Biden administration aggressively lobbied Democrats to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to target the Putin-backed project.

Why it matters: The 55-44 vote is the culmination of Cruz's months-long push to force Democrats into an uncomfortable vote on Nord Stream 2, which the Ukrainian government has said is "no less an existential threat to our security" than the tens of thousands of Russian troops massing on its border. The bill needed 60 votes to pass.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

North Korea fires projectile in 3rd launch this month, Seoul says

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday of a North Korean missile test. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired an "unidentified projectile" eastward on Friday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, per Yonhap news agency.

Why it matters: North Korea's third launch in just over a week came hours after state media warned that its military would take "stronger and certain reaction" if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.

Jan 14, 2022 - World

U.S. braces for Russian escalation as talks hit “dead end”

OSCE Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau said Thursday "the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever." Photo: Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The crisis over Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine entered a dangerous and unpredictable new phase in both Vienna and Washington on Thursday.

Driving the news: Russian diplomats said this week's round of security talks from Geneva and Brussels to Vienna have resulted in a "dead end," and it's time for them to return to Moscow to brief President Vladimir Putin on the "very disappointing" state of affairs before deciding the path forward.