Belarus Bans E.U., U.K., Airlines, Western Imports as Part of Retaliatory Sanctions

On Monday, Belarusian officials announced a ban on a number of western imports and airlines from the U.K. and European Union in retaliation to the sanctions other countries have imposed on Belarus.

The Associated Press reported Belarus' new restrictions are retaliation to the United States, Canada, EU, and Britain giving sanctions against Belarussian companies, organizations and officials last week.

The AP reported that Britain gave sanctions "on eight Belarusian individuals responsible for repression and human rights violations."

Seventeen people from Belarus including military officials, senior border guards, judges and others had their assets frozen by the EU. Additionally, the EU created a travel ban for Belarus.

The Belarus Foreign Ministry said the ban on western imports is a response to the "illegal external sanctions pressure aimed at undermining the sovereignty of Belarus and deterioration of the well-being of Belarusian citizens."

On Monday, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the sanctions will not cause any "tangible harm," the AP reported.

"Of course, there is nothing good in this," Lukashenko said at a meeting in Minsk. "But to lie down today, fold your arms over your chest and die, there is no reason for that."

So far, there has not been a published list from the Belarus government about which imported goods from the west will be banned.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

European Union, Airplane, Banned
On Monday, Belarusian officials announced a ban on a number of western imports and airlines from the U.K. and European Union in retaliation to the sanctions other countries have imposed on Belarus. Above, a plane arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol airport on December 2, 2021, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Pierre Crom/Getty Images

Lukashenko said Belarus has managed to maintain economic growth. The economy contracted 0.9 percent last year, but according to October forecasts, the World Bank expects GDP to grow by 1.2 percent in 2021.

Analysts say Russia is throwing a lifeline to the Belarusian economy by providing loans, selling oil and gas to the country at domestic prices and opening the Russian market to Belarusian goods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin backed Lukashenko during the massive anti-government protests last year following a presidential election in August 2020 that the opposition and the West said was rigged. Putin offered Belarus a $1.5 billion loan and pledged military aid.

"Lukashenko is ready to intensify confrontation with the West and be at the forefront of Kremlin's plans, since Moscow still pays for Minsk's anti-Western rhetoric," independent analyst Valery Karbalevich told the Associated Press. "Western sanctions will hurt sensitive sectors of the Belarusian economy, but they will be compensated for Belarusians out of Russian pockets."

The EU targeted those accused of participating in a "hybrid attack" on the bloc using migrants as pawns on the borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

The measures also hit airlines—including state carrier Belavia—and travel groups accused by the EU of helping to bring migrants to Belarus with the aim of helping them cross into the 27-country bloc.

migrants, Belarus, border
Three western countries and the European Union have put sanctions on Belarus, accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of luring thousands of migrants to Belarus with the promise of help to get to Western Europe to use them as pawns to destabilize the 27-nation EU. Above, migrants line up to get hot food in the logistics center of the checkpoint "Bruzgi" at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, on December 1, 2021. Oksana Manchuk/BelTA via AP