United States and Global Community Adopt Broad Sanctions Targeting Belarus (Part III of IV)

The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada and Switzerland have adopted or expanded sanctions against Belarus, and the Alexander Lukashenko regime. 

President Biden issued a new executive order that expanded U.S. sanctions authority against Belarus, authorizing the designation of government officials, oligarchs and various companies linked to the Lukashenko regime.  The expanded sanctions authority now encompasses various sectors, including defense, energy, security, transportation, cigarette manufacturing, and construction.  OFAC expects to implement a broad set of sanctions across the Belarus economy.

The United Kingdom also imposed restrictions including prohibitions on technology, software, dual-use goods, oil and gas and tobacco products. The UK prohibitions apply in the territory of UK and all UK persons and companies wherever located.

The EU imposed new restrictions on aviation, and prohibitions on trade in technology items, including artificial intelligence and software products.  Earlier in the summer, the EU adopted a broad range of sectoral sanctions against Belarus.

Canada adopted revised sanctions relating to securities, money market instruments, debt and various financial transactions, along with a robust set of restrictions on oil and gas products. 

Finally, Switzerland introduced new trade prohibitions in the financial sector and products used to monitor internet and telephone communications.

OFAC took immediate steps under the new executive order to sanction 23 individuals and 21 entities, many of whom were involved in the crackdown on protesters after last year’s disputed election and the government’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight in May.  OFAC announced the new sanctions by stressing that the action was unprecedented in scope against Belarus.

OFAC’s sanctions specifically target oligarchs connected to Lukashenko’s regime – individuals and entities that continue to finance the Lukashenko regime through corrupt activities.  These sanctions include oligarch Mikalai Varabei and associated companies, former government official Aliaksey Aleksin and associated companies.

OFAC also sanctioned two major government-owned entities: Belaruskali OAO, a top global producer of fertilizer ingredient potassium chloride, and Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman, a tobacco factory and “major source” of illegal cigarettes in the European Union.  OFAC issued a general license involving Belaruskali OAO authorizing individuals and companies 120 days to wind down transactions.

The U.S. and international set of sanctions are intended to pressure Belarus to allow an international investigation of the Ryanair flight diversion, to release political prisoners, and to refrain from targeting activists who are demanding free and fair elections.

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