Belarus Sanctions Regime in EU

Belarus Sanctions Regime in EU

Since October 2020, the EU has gradually tightened sanctions against Belarus. The sanctions were enacted in reaction to Belarus’s rigged presidential elections in August 2020.

The sanctions regime on Belarus presently designates 183 persons and 26 companies, including major officials in the political leadership and administration, high-level members of the judicial system, and numerous prominent economic operators.

The EU has also reinforced additional sanctions on Belarus as a result of its participation in Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Sanctions Imposed to Belarus in Reaction to Russia’s Military Invasion of Ukraine

The EU strongly condemns Belarus’s participation in Russia’s aggressive and unlawful military invasion of Ukraine. In reaction to Belarus’ activities, the EU implemented a number of steps in 2022, including:

  • Individual and economic penalties targeting 22 persons
  • Trade limitations
  • Three Belarusian banks have been blocked from using SWIFT
  • A ban on transactions with the Belarusian Central Bank
  • Limitations on Belarus’s financial inflows to the EU
  • A restriction on the supply of euro-denominated banknotes to Belarus

Sanctions Imposed in Reaction to Events in Belarus

Following the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, the EU has gradually increased restrictive measures against Belarusians and companies. Since October 2020, the EU has implemented five sanction packages related to the situation in Belarus, targeting a total of 183 persons and 26 businesses. These measures were imposed in reaction to, among other things, unacceptable brutality by Belarusian authorities against peaceful protestors, the politicization of immigration, and hybrid assaults at the EU’s borders.

Restrictive measures in the aftermath of the 2020 Belarus presidential elections

Since October 2020, the EU has gradually tightened sanctions against Belarus. Following the August 2020 presidential elections, the Belarusian authorities used inappropriate violence against peaceful demonstrators, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and detentions. The EU rejects the results of the Belarus elections, calling them neither free nor fair.

What Does The EU Say About The Situation in Belarus?

The Republic of Belarus held presidential elections on August 9, 2020. According to credible claims from domestic observers, the process did not fulfill the international standards anticipated of an OSCE participating state (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe). Following protests, state police used disproportionate force, resulting in at least two deaths and several injuries.

In reaction to unlawful circumstances in Belarus, the EU criticized the elections as inappropriate and unfair, and EU leaders agreed to impose penalties. On 14 August 2020, EU foreign ministers conducted a video conference on the situation in Belarus, which was followed by a video conference with EU heads of state and government on 19 August 2020.

During the Special European Council in October 2020, EU leaders reiterated their refusal to recognize the election results and denounced the Belarusian authorities’ use of force against peaceful protestors.

They agreed that restriction measures should be applied and urged the Council to make a decision as soon as possible. The European Council also urged the European Commission to develop an economic assistance package for democratic Belarus.

The Situation at EU’s External Borders with Belarus

Following Belarus’s political instability and the EU’s restrictive measures, the Belarusian authorities began instrumentalizing migrants for political objectives and waging hybrid attacks along the EU border. The EU has responded by providing help to vulnerable persons, including financial assistance, fighting human trafficking, and supporting temporary asylum and return procedures.