EU imposes sectoral sanctions on Belarus, updates on EU's Myanmar/Burma and Libya regimes
Over the course of an eventful week, the EU, the US, the UK and Canada increased the sanctions pressure on Belarus considerably.
A host of new listings under existing regimes, as well as a new set of sectoral sanctions were imposed on Belarus this week, in the wake of escalating human rights violations and repression of democratic opposition committed by President Lukashenka's regime. As was made clear by the a press release from the EU Council, new sanctions also come in direct response to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021, and the subsequent arrest of dissident journalist Raman Pratasecivh and Sofia Sapega.
On Monday 21 June 2021, the EU, the US, the UK, and Canada in tandem imposed sanctions on a wide range of persons and entities, under already existing sanctions regimes.
Following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU released the so-called "fourth package" of Belarus-related sanctions, aimed at an additional 78 individuals and 8 entities. Among them were persons and entities found to be involved the forced landing of Ryanair Flight FR4978, as well as several prominent business figures who support and benefit from the Lukashenko regime, according to the EU press release. A total of 166 persons and 15 entities are now subject to asset freeze, travel restrictions as well as a prohibition on making funds available to those listed, under this EU regime. Earlier in June, the EU also imposed a ban on overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines, and have prevented access to EU airports for these airlines.
The US added 16 individuals and 5 entities to the SDN-list pursuant to Executive Order 13405 (2006), who were deemed by OFAC to be close associates of President Lukashenka, perpetrators and facilitators of violent suppression of peaceful protests, and orchestrators of the fraudulent election of August 2020. Listed individuals and entities are subject to blocking sanctions.
Along the same lines, the UK imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 7 individuals and 1 entity, including senior-ranking officials in the Belarusian regime and BNK (UK) Ltd., an exporter of Belarusian oil products. Finally, Canada added 17 persons and 5 entities to the Consolidated Canadian Sanctions List, pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act.
Expansion of the EU regime – sectoral sanctions
On Thursday 24 June 2021, the EU Council announced that it had introduced new targeted economic sanctions against the Belarusian regime, by way of Council Regulation (EU) 2021/1030 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/1031.
The new sanctions include:
- prohibition on "import, purchase or transfer, directly or indirectly" of listed potash (potassium chloride) products;
- restrictions on trade of petroleum products and goods used for the production or manufacturing of tobacco;
- prohibition to sell, supply, transfer or export, directly or indirectly to anyone in Belarus "equipment, technology or software intended primarily for use in the monitoring or interception of the internet and of telephone communications," as well as dual-use goods and technology intended for military end-use, or to certain specified persons, entities and bodies;
- restrictions on Belarus' access to the EU's capital markets and a prohibition on providing insurance and re-insurance to the Belarusian government as well as public bodies and agencies;
- the European Investment Bank is prohibited from "making any disbursement or payment under or in connection with any existing agreements" and "suspend all existing Technical Assistance Service Contracts relating to projects financed under" such agreements;
- EU member states are required to limit Belarus' involvement in multilateral developments banks of which they are members.
These expansions arguably mark the most significant development in sanctions on Belarus yet, as they target sectors vital to the Belarusian economy and to President Lukashenka's regime itself. Notably, the sanctions may also have severe ramifications for the global market, in particular because Belarus is one of the world's largest potash exporters.
Further sanctions on Myanmar/Burma, and specifications in Libya regime
Following the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday 21 June 2021, the EU Council imposed a third round of sanctions on an additional 8 individuals, 3 economic entities and the War Veterans Organisation, in response to the military coup in February 2021 and ensuing repression against peaceful protesters. You can read more about sanctions on Myanmar/Burma in our previous alert.
Furthermore, the EU Council made certain changes to the decision concerning measures imposed in view of the situation in Libya. In line with UN Security Council Resolution 2571, it was clarified that the criteria for imposition of restrictive measures also comprise individuals and entities obstructing or undermining the elections planned for in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap.