EU ambassadors on Wednesday approved a new sanctions list targeting Belarus after Russia used the country as a base to launch its invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions will target parts of the Belarusian economy, “in particular the timber, steel and potash sectors”, announced the French rotating presidency of the EU. noted on Twitter. They will also strike “officials and soldiers involved in the Russian aggression against Ukraine”.
Over the past few months, Belarus has allowed tens of thousands of Russian troops into its territory for what were initially described as military exercises. But last week, those Russian troops were part of a multi-pronged assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine also claimed on Tuesday that Belarus had sent its own forces to Ukraine, but a US defense official said hours later he had seen “no indication” of this. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has also denied any direct involvement.
The latest EU sanctions come after the UK on Tuesday authorized its own initial tranche of sanctions against Belarus for Minsk’s support for Moscow throughout its military build-up and subsequent attack on Russia. Ukraine. Last week, the United States also hit Belarus with penalties of their own.
Belarus is already under heavy sanctions from the EU, US and UK over Lukashenko’s increasingly repressive behavior in his country. For months, he led a violent crackdown on national dissent following an election widely seen as fraudulent. And last summer he brought down a Ryanair flight to arrest a dissident journalist.
Previous EU sanctions have targeted Belarus’ banking, oil, tobacco and fertilizer sectors, as well as a large number of companies and individuals linked to the regime.
Wednesday’s addition of sanctions on the Belarusian potash sector is notable, as it is a key export for the country and used in many European countries for various products.
Since Russia launched its war on Ukraine, the EU has separately hit Russia with increasingly harsh sanctions in a joint effort with Western allies to economically alienate much of the country from the international market.