By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The British governments says it will introduce a new round of economic, trade, and transport sanctions on Belarus and the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
In a statement on July 4, the British Foreign Office said the package of sanctions “extends some of the significant measures made against Russia to Belarus.”
It said the new sanctions will be formally announced and take effect on July 5.
Western nations have slapped financial sanctions on Russia to punish it for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Belarus is not a direct participant in the war, but it has provided logistics aid to Russian troops, many of which crossed the border into Ukraine from Belarus, leading the West to also impose sanctions on Minsk.
The statement said the British government will also restrict “Belarus’s access to the U.K.’s world-class financial services sector – banning more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.”
“The Belarus regime has actively facilitated [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion, letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine – launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace,” its statement said.
Lukashenka “has also openly supported the Kremlin’s narrative, claiming that Kyiv was ‘provoking Russia’ in order to justify Putin’s bloody invasion.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while plagued by a series of scandals at home, has taken a leading role among Western nations in hitting Russia and Belarus with sanctions following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Foreign Office said the new action builds on the “wide-ranging measures” the government has imposed on Minsk, including a 35 percent increase on tariffs on a range of goods originating from Belarus.
It has also placed sanctions on Lukashenka and senior government officials “for their continued human rights violations and undermining of democracy.”
Lukashenka, 67 years old and in power since 1994, has tightened his grip on the country since the 2020 election by arresting — sometimes violently — tens of thousands of people. Fearing for their safety, most opposition members have been forced to flee the country.
The West has refused to recognize the results of the election and does not consider Lukashenka to be the country’s legitimate leader. Many countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions against his regime in response to the suppression of dissent in the country.