LONDON – The UK, US and Canada have imposed new trade, financial and air sanctions on Belarus, in an attempt to increase pressure on the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko.
Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) said on Monday Britain would take action to limit Belarusian regime’s trade on a number of goods that can be used to suppress dissidents or provide a source income, such as potash, petroleum products, commodities used in the manufacture of cigarettes and certain technological devices.
The UK will also adopt measures to end the granting of loans to the scheme, as well as purchases of securities and money market instruments issued by the Belarusian state and state-owned banks.
Belarusian air carriers will be banned from flying over the UK or landing in the country, and the UK will not provide technical assistance to Lukashenko’s fleet of luxury jets, the FCDO said.
The package was announced on the first anniversary of a contested presidential election that saw Lukashenko remain in power. He then launched a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and the press.
“The Lukashenko regime continues to crush democracy and violate human rights in Belarus,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement. “These sanctions demonstrate that the UK will not accept Lukashenko’s actions since the fraudulent elections. The products of Lukashenko’s state industries will not be sold in the UK and our aerospace companies will not touch its fleet of luxury planes.
US President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order imposing the largest round of sanctions to date against Belarusian individuals and organizations, including Belaruskali OAO, one of the country’s largest state-owned enterprises and a potash producer, and the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, following accusations, facilitated money laundering, evasion of sanctions and circumvention of visa bans.
The move comes after Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight to Belarus during the Tokyo Olympics after saying she was forced to the airport by her national Olympic team at the following criticism of his team of coaches. She has since applied for refugee status in Poland.
In a statement released on Monday, Biden said Lukashenko had ignored calls for democracy made by his own people, and instead “perpetrated election fraud” and launched a “brutal crackdown to quell dissent.” .
“It is the responsibility of all who care about human rights, free and fair elections and free speech to stand up to this oppression,” Biden said. “The United States will continue to defend human rights and freedom of expression, while holding the Lukashenka regime accountable, along with our allies and partners. “
Asked for a response, Lukashenko said the UK should stifle sanctions. “You are America’s pocket dogs,” he said in a Reuters article about Britain.
Opposition-in-exile leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya previously called for new sanctions and argued that their lifting should be conditional on the release of all political prisoners, an end to violence in the country and more new elections.