July 25, 2021

Belarus announces response to US sanctions

Belarus announced Thursday, June 3, its response measures against Washington, after the entry into force of new US sanctions. “We cannot leave this unfriendly approach without attention”, said the spokesman of the Belarusian foreign ministry, Anatoly Glaz, in a statement. On Thursday, US economic sanctions came into effect against nine state-owned companies in the former Soviet republic.

Response measures include, in particular, “Reduction of diplomatic, administrative and technical staff” from the US Embassy in Minsk and “The tightening of the visa issuance procedure” Belarusians, according to the statement. The country has also withdrawn the authorization to work on its territory at the United States Agency for International Development, he said.

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US sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned companies were reimposed in April following the crackdown on pro-democracy protests and took effect Thursday. In the wake of contested elections in 2006, Washington banned all transactions with these companies. The US Treasury then suspended these sanctions in 2015, welcoming some progress, but the US government warned at the end of March that this suspension may not be renewed at the next deadline.

Additional sanctions after the diversion of the aircraft

“These are illegitimate actions that go against international law and aim to put pressure on a sovereign state”, denounced Mr. Glaz, believing that these sanctions would affect mainly “Ordinary Belarusian citizens”. Last week, Washington announced it was working with the European Union on additional sanctions against the country, following the diversion in May by Minsk of a commercial plane on a European flight and the arrest of a political opponent who was in its edge.

The American ambassador in Minsk was recalled to Washington in 2008 at the request of the Belarusian authorities, after the introduction of American sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko. Since then, the American diplomatic mission has been headed by a charge d’affaires. Mr. Lukashenko has faced unprecedented and extremely massive demonstrations after his controversial re-election to a fifth term in August 2020. Refusing any concessions, he has arrested or sent into exile most of his opponents and denounces demonstrations led by the West to overthrow it.

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The World with AFP