Treasury Expands Belarus Sanctions to Target Sovereign Debt
(Bloomberg) -- The Treasury Department imposed restrictions on new issues of Belarusian sovereign debt as the U.S. and its allies escalate pressure on the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.
In addition to prohibiting transactions and financing of Belarus’s sovereign debt sold on primary and secondary markets, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated for sanctions 20 individuals and 12 entities and identified three aircraft as blocked property.
“The United States stands alongside its international partners and allies in imposing costs on the Lukashenko regime for its deplorable behavior, including migrant smuggling,” Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki said in the statement. “Treasury will continue to work with the international community to address the Lukashenko regime’s repression, corruption, and flaunting of internationally recognized human rights.”
The move represented the fifth time Treasury has levied a package of sanctions against Belarus since the country’s presidential election in August 2020, which the U.S. says was fraudulent. Treasury said that the action was taken in coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada. The EU on Thursday approved new sanctions on 17 individuals and 11 entities in Belarus, including oil producer Belarusneft, as well as Belarusian border officials and judges.
The allies have accused Lukashenko of orchestrating a migrant crisis crisis by allegedly luring migrants to the country’s borders with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in retaliation for mounting sanctions the bloc imposed over his crackdown on opposition protests following last year’s disputed presidential election.
The U.S. sanctions target new Belarusian sovereign debt with a maturity of greater than 90 days issued on or after December 9, 2021. They also target a tourism company, a state-owned cargo carrier, potash exports and defense companies as well as Belarusian security officials and officials close to the Lukashenko family.
Lukashenko’s government “is luring migrants, including many families with small children, to travel to Belarus by coordinating the issuance of visas, increasing flights from the Middle East to Belarus, and then transporting people to the borders of EU member states,” the Treasury Department said in the statement. “Once at the border, Belarusian officials direct and force migrants across the border to facilitate their passage into the EU. Belarusian authorities do not allow them to return to Minsk, so many migrants are now stuck at the border in Belarus, exposed to harsh winter conditions that have already claimed the lives of at least a dozen vulnerable individuals.”
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