THEhe situation is not improving between Belarus and the western world. This Thursday, all the great Western powers, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, announced their intention to increase economic sanctions against Belarus, in the context of the crisis. migration orchestrated by Minsk on the Polish border. Denouncing “repeated violations of human rights”, the countries concerned demand in particular that the regime led by Alexander Lukashenko “immediately and completely stop the organization of irregular migration across its borders with the EU”.
For several weeks, Minsk has been accused of having orchestrated the influx of migrants to its border with Poland in retaliation for Western sanctions taken after the repression of the Belarusian opposition denouncing the contested re-election of Alexander Lukashenko. The new sanctions “demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime which increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines peace and security in Europe and continues to exploit people who seek only to live in freedom” , underlined in another press the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken.
Belarus reacted by calling the new sanctions “absurd”. “The depth of the absurdity” of this decision “begins to defy all logic,” said the Belarusian Foreign Ministry in a statement. Minsk will retaliate by taking “severe and asymmetrical measures, but adequate”, he warned.
The US Treasury has announced that it is targeting 20 individuals and 12 organizations close to power, accused of having “facilitated the passage (…) of migrants within the EU” and of having “taken part in the ongoing crackdown on human rights. humans and democracy ”. The EU sanctions list was extended to 28 officials and entities, including the national airline Belavia. The 17 officials and 11 entities are added to the EU’s blacklist on Belarus, which already contains 166 names, including those of President Lukashenko and 2 of his sons, as well as 15 entities linked to the regime. The sanctions consist of an asset freeze and a ban on entry into the EU.
Newly targeted by Brussels, but also Washington, the state tourist company Tsentrkurort is accused of “playing a key role” in organizing the passage of migrants to the EU. The United Kingdom for its part announced to sanction eight additional individuals as well as the state enterprise Belaruskali, “one of the largest world producers of potash-based fertilizers”, according to London.
“These sanctions continue to target important sources of revenue for the Lukashenko regime,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement.
For Warsaw, “the strong sanctions of the EU” coincide with the American sanctions, and are due to “the violations of human rights, the aggressive actions undertaken by Minsk and the hybrid operation” on the border between Poland and Belarus , argued in a tweet the Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcin Przydacz.
Barbed wire fence
The regime of Alexander Lukashenko denies being the instigator of the crisis which led to the deaths of at least a dozen people in the border area, according to Polish media. According to the latest figures from the European Commission released at the end of November, nearly 8,000 migrants from Belarus arrived on EU territory in 2021: 4,285 in Lithuania, 3,255 in Poland and 426 in Latvia.
Brussels accuses Belarus of having organized these arrivals by issuing visas and bringing the arrivals to the borders of Poland and, to a lesser extent, of Lithuania in revenge for European sanctions against it. The situation has aroused fears in Europe of a large-scale migration crisis.
Thousands of people, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, are stranded at the border on the Belarusian side. Poland, which has built a barbed wire fence and massed thousands of soldiers at its border, is criticized by NGOs for its policy of returning migrants to Belarus, many of whom find themselves stranded between the two countries, in very difficult conditions. difficult and in the cold.