Minsk considered it absurd.. New Western sanctions against Belarus due to the migrant crisis

According to the latest tally published by the European Commission at the end of November, nearly 8,000 immigrants arrived from Belarus to the territory of the European Union in 2021, distributed among 4,285 immigrants in Lithuania, 3,255 in Poland and 426 in Latvia.

The United States, Britain, the European Union and Canada imposed new economic sanctions on Belarus on Thursday for “repeated violations of human rights” and for bringing in migrants and pushing them to its borders with the European Union, in a move that Minsk quickly denounced as “absurd.”

“We again call on the regime of (President) Alexander Lukashenko to immediately and completely stop organizing waves of illegal immigration across its borders with the European Union,” the allies said in a joint statement.

“Those who facilitate the illegal crossing of the external borders of the European Union, whether in Belarus or in third countries, should know that this act has a heavy price,” the statement said.

Thousands of migrants at the Belarusian border want to enter Poland (European)

escalation of tension

This action came at a time of rising tensions between East and West due to the refugee crisis on the border between Belarus, a close ally of Russia, on the one hand, and Poland and Lithuania on the other.

Minsk is accused of bringing in large numbers of immigrants and pushing them to its borders with Poland to flood the European Union with immigrants, in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by the West after the Lukashenko regime’s repression against the opposition because of its protest against his re-election.

In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken declared that the sanctions “demonstrate our steadfast determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly oppresses its own people, undermines peace and security in Europe, and continues to exploit people who only seek to live in freedom.”

In turn, the US Treasury stated that the new sanctions target 20 individuals and 12 organizations close to the authority accused of “facilitating the transit of (…) migrants to the European Union” and “participation in the ongoing repression targeting human rights and democracy.”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visits a polling station during the presidential election in MinskLukashenko accused of being behind the waves of irregular migration (Reuters)

List and denounce

For its part, the European Union officially expanded Thursday its list of sanctions against Belarus to include 28 officials and entities, including the national airline Belavia.

Minsk quickly denounced the Western move, calling it “absurd.”

“The depth of the absurdity (of this decision) is beginning to defy all logic,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, warning that Minsk would respond by taking “strict and unequal, but appropriate measures.”

She added that “the open demonization of our country continues,” considering that the goal of the Westerners is “to strangle Belarus economically and destroy it as a sovereign state.”

In its statement, the ministry stressed that “this is not the first time that Belarus has faced such challenges from the West,” stressing that “as was the case in the past, the Belarusian state will strengthen itself and pass this stage with dignity by ensuring a good standard of living for its residents.”

The new European sanctions include freezing the assets of the entities and people they target, in addition to preventing them from entering the European Union.

Thousands of migrants stranded at the (European) Belarusian border

Target and welcome

And the European blacklist, to which 17 officials and 11 entities were added, mainly contains the names of 166 Belarusian personalities, led by President Lukashenko and two of his sons, in addition to 15 entities associated with his regime.

Among the most prominent entities targeted by European and American sanctions is the Belarusian state tourism company “Tsenterkoort”, which is accused of “playing a major role” in organizing the transit of migrants to the European Union.

For its part, Britain announced that the sanctions it imposed targeted 8 individuals and the state-owned Belarussali Company, “one of the largest producers of potash-based fertilizers in the world.”

“These sanctions continue to target important sources of revenue for the Lukashenko regime,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

For its part, Warsaw welcomed the new sanctions Marcin Presedach Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister tweeted that “severe EU sanctions coincide with severe US sanctions” and Minsk deserved it for its human rights violations and aggressive actions at the Polish-Belarus border.

According to Polish media, at least 10 people have died in this border region, which Lukashenko’s regime denies any connection to the migrant crisis in.

According to the latest tally published by the European Commission at the end of November, nearly 8,000 immigrants arrived from Belarus to the European Union in 2021, distributed among 4,285 immigrants in Lithuania, 3,255 in Poland and 426 in Latvia.

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