EU broadens scope for sanctions’ against Lukashenka regime to tackle hybrid attacks, instrumentalisation of migrants

On November 15, the Council of the EU amended its sanctions regime against the Belarusian authorities in view of the situation at the EU’s border with Belarus, so as to be able to respond to the instrumentalisation of human beings carried out by the Belarus regime for political purposes, the press service reports.

Josep Borrell. Photo:

The sanctions regime was amended by way of a Council decision and a Council regulation, which broaden the listing criteria on which specific designations can be based. The EU will now be able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenka regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders.

“Today’s decision reflects the determination by the European Union to stand up to the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes. We are pushing back on this inhuman and illegal practice. At the same time, we continue to underline the unacceptable ongoing repression by the regime against its own population at home, and we will respond accordingly,” Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Police, said.

The decision follows the European Council conclusions of 21 and 22 October 2021, in which EU leaders declared that they would not accept any attempt by third countries to instrumentalise migrants for political purposes, condemned all hybrid attacks at the EU’s borders and affirmed that it would respond accordingly.

Last week, amid the ongoing migration crisis at the Belarusian-Polish border, the European Union was reported to be close to imposing more sanctions on Belarus, targeting some 30 individuals and entities including its foreign minister Uladzimir Makey and Belarus’ national air carrier Belavia. In the course of her recent meeting with US leader Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU wouldwiden sanctions against Belarus very rapidly at the beginning of next week’.

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Since October 2020, the EU has progressively expanded its restrictive measures in the light of the situation in Belarus. These measures were put in place in response to the fraudulent nature of the August 2020 presidential elections in Belarus, and the intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protesters, opposition members and journalists. The EU does not recognise the results of the Belarus elections, condemning them as neither free, nor fair.

A total of 166 individuals and 15 entities are now designated under the sanctions regime on Belarus. These include Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his son and national security adviser, Viktar Lukashenka, as well as other key figures in the political leadership and the government, high-level members of the judicial system and several prominent economic actors. Measures against designated persons include travel bans and an assets freeze.

In June, the Council decided to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds and imposing targeted economic sanctions.

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