Biden Adds Belarus Sanctions on Election’s Anniversary
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration imposed new sanctions Monday targeting a Belarusian state-owned potash producer, the country’s Olympic committee, and business leaders and companies with ties to President Alexander Lukashenko.
The sanctions came on the one-year anniversary of the country’s presidential election, which has been widely condemned by the U.S. and European Union as fraudulent and prompted weekly protests in the Eastern European nation.
The U.S. penalties target Belaruskali OAO, one of Belarus’s largest state-owned enterprises, and fifteen companies with ties to Lukashenko. The penalties come in addition to sanctions imposed earlier this year against Belarus after the forced diversion of a Ryanair Holdings Plc flight so that police could arrest Raman Pratasevich, a journalist who covered protests over Lukashenko’s election.
“From detaining thousands of peaceful protesters, to imprisoning more than 500 activists, civil society leaders, and journalists as political prisoners, to forcing the diversion of an international flight in an affront to global norms, the actions of the Lukashenko regime are an illegitimate effort to hold on to power at any price,” President Joe Biden said Monday in a statement.
The movement by the U.S. matches similar penalties imposed earlier Monday by the U.K. That country’s sanctions prevent Belarusian air carriers from overflying or landing in the U.K. and impose a prohibition on purchases of transferable securities and money-market instruments issued by the Belarusian state. Lukashenko accused the British government of being lapdogs to the U.S. at a subsequent press conference where he dismissed the sanctions.
Potash is one of Belarus’s major exports and the country’s only abundant mineral resource. New sanctions could spur further gains in the price of the soil nutrient, said Elena Sakhnova, a VTB Capital analyst.
Earlier: Belarus MOP Supply Uncertain Amid Strike
“Belaruskali sells only 10% of potash to the U.S., but the risk of the cross sanctions may prevent other clients from doing business with the company, as it was in the case with Russian aluminum producer Rusal several years back,” Sakhnova said.
Though this would be bad news for farmers, North American potash producers like Nutrien Ltd. and Russian producer Uralkali could benefit, Sakhnova said.
The sanctions “will firm further the potash floor in a market still clamoring for tons even as U.S. corn-belt potash prices are up 96% year to date,” Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Alexis Maxwell said.
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