The British government has introduced new sanctions against Belarus, targeting exports and internet propaganda, over Minsk’s continued support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Legislation passed in the House of Commons on Thursday made the package of measures, dubbed “Belarus II”, effective immediately. They include an import ban on gold, cement, timber and rubber from Belarus, sources of income for the regime.
Belarus has already received sanctions from the EU and the UK for their role in aiding Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, and these have dealt a significant blow to the Belarusian economy.
However, differences between the sanctions imposed on Moscow and those on Minsk allow for some trade with Russia via Belarus.
The sanctions imposed on Thursday aim to close some of those loopholes by more closely aligning sanctions against the two countries, including by introducing further restrictions on Belarus’ access to financial markets of the UK.
It followed the United Kingdom’s first wave of sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in February last year, immediately following its full-scale invasion of Russia.
An additional wave of sanctions introduced last July, worth around £60 million for the Belarusian regime, banned the export of oil refinery goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods from the UK to Belarus, and blocked imports of White -Russian iron and steel to the UK.
Lukashenko himself has been subject to a travel ban and asset freeze since 2020, when he became the UK’s first national leader to be targeted by personal sanctions.
The embargoes on Belarus’ timber, cement and rubber exports align the UK with EU sanctions against Minsk in a bid to further limit the regime’s access to foreign exchange earnings.
The EU has been trying for six months to implement similar anti-circumvention measures against Minsk, but the 27 member states have so far failed to reach an agreement due to Lithuania’s opposition to a proposed derogation for fertilizer exports from Belarus, which some other EU members is needed for farmers in third countries. Belarus is one of the world’s largest producers of potash fertilizers.
Additional reporting by Raphael Minder in Warsaw