EU-Belarus: A new package of sanctions is expected to be imposed

The European Union’s foreign ministers are expected to adopt a new package of sanctions against Belarus on Monday, following a new escalation of tensions over the past week due to a sharp rise in the flow of migrants and refugees to its eastern border.

The main target of the sanctions will be Belavia, the Belarusian national carrier. This will be the fifth package of measures after the August 2020 presidential election, the result of which was challenged by the Belarusian opposition, alleging fraud.

Belavia will be targeted for its alleged role in transporting refugees and migrants to Minsk, from where three of the 27 EU member states are headed to the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Thousands of migrants have been trapped under increasingly difficult conditions on the Belarus-Poland border: they have been turned into the apple of the diplomatic dispute between Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and the European Union, which does not recognize him as the legitimate head of state.

On Saturday, a group of about 50 migrants managed to break through a fence and wander for several hours in Polish territory, until its members were arrested by border guards. They were transported straight back, across the border with Belarus.

European officials have been discussing sanctions against Belarus for several days. The process has drawn attention to the fact that almost 50% of Belavia’s fleet is owned by aircraft rental companies based in Ireland.

Following the current barrage of sanctions, it is not ruled out that new ones will begin to be prepared, the sixth in a row, diplomatic sources told the German Agency.

The same sources also downplayed Mr Lukashenko’s threat to cut off Russian gas supplies to the EU.

The European Union (EU) has accused Mr Lukashenko of trying to create a crisis by giving visas to migrants and refugees and then sending them to Europe, trying to avenge the European Union (EU) sanctions imposed on him by the White House. after the 2020 presidential election. European officials call the way the Belarusian president is acting a “hybrid threat”.