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September 24, 2023


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Belarus Targeted in New Sanctions Round

2 min read

The U.S. has imposed a new round of sanctions on Belarus, targeting the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko for its continued support of Russia’s war in Ukraine and for its crackdown on Belarus’s pro-democracy movement.

The sanctions, unveiled Friday, strike at key Belarusian manufacturers and Mr. Lukashenko’s own perks. His presidential aircraft, a luxury Boeing 737 that he uses for personal travel with his family and entourage, was explicitly identified as a property associated with Mr. Lukashenko, who was previously personally sanctioned. The U.S. has in the past moved to seize aircraft associated with sanctioned individuals.

A representative for the Belarusian Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Belarus has been a repeated target of U.S. sanctions enforcers, in particular since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Lukashenko, one of a few world leaders still backing Vladimir Putin, allowed the Russian president to stage attacks on Ukraine through Belarusian territory, and has said he would do so again.

In power since 1994, Mr. Lukashenko has also moved to suppress his political opposition and pro-democracy activists. He now holds office through a 2020 election that outside observers regard as fraudulent. The new sanctions coincide with Freedom Day, an unofficial Belarusian holiday that the country’s political opposition celebrates each March 25.

Mr. Lukashenko’s regime “relies on state-owned enterprises and key officials to generate substantial revenue that enables oppressive acts against the Belarusian people,” said Brian Nelson, an undersecretary at the U.S. Treasury Department.

The U.S. government is committed to imposing costs on the regime “for its suppression of democracy and support for Putin’s war of choice,” he said.

In addition to Mr. Lukashenko’s presidential aircraft, the U.S. sanctions target two major sources of revenue for his regime: Belarusian Automobile Plant, known BelAZ, and Minsk Automobile Plant, known as MAZ. Mr. Lukashenko has described BelAZ, a producer of dump trucks founded when Belarus was in the Soviet Union, as part of the country’s “national legacy.” MAZ is one of the largest automobile makers in Belarus.

The European Union and Canada previously imposed sanctions on both companies.

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