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Belarusian Democratic Forces and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine have united against the Lukashenko regime


Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the NAM, Ambassador

Lukashenko, put an end to the persecution of the people – that is the primary message conveyed through any sanctions against the regime. In response to the criminal acts committed under Lukashenko’s watch, both domestically and internationally, nations around the world are continuously limiting the regime's capabilities. Consequently, for the majority of Belarusians, the name Lukashenko has become synonymous with missed opportunities and the cause of various restrictions. While sanctions may not solve all problems, they serve as a civilized means of responding to the actions of the regime. The question of their effectiveness is of utmost importance.

The issue of sanctions exerting pressure on the Lukashenko regime holds significant importance for the democratic forces in Belarus. It reflects the response of our foreign partners to the regime's barbaric behavior, not only towards the Belarusian people but also towards neighboring countries.

The sanctions are severely impacting Lukashenko and his regime, prompting him to make considerable efforts to remove or soften them and create corruption schemes to circumvent them, often involving third countries. However, these manipulations have not been particularly successful, as more and more countries recognize the need to enhance the effectiveness of sanction implementation.

On March 2, 2022, the European Union imposed an import ban on Belarusian wood due to the country's involvement in Russia's aggression against Ukraine. However, related industries such as pulp and paper and furniture, which are not yet subject to EU sanctions, continue to financially support the Lukashenko regime. Consequently, these industries continue to access the European market. For instance, in the first half of 2023, the EU imported furniture from Belarus worth EUR 97.2 million, including wooden furniture valued at EUR 61.4 million.

Furthermore, following the ban on Russian pulp and paper exports to Western markets, the import of pulp and paper from Belarus to the EU has significantly increased. Some of these goods may actually originate from Russia. Pulp and paper now account for approximately 4.5% of Belarus' total exports to the EU.

This situation primarily arises from the disparity in the sanctions imposed on Russia and the Lukashenko regime. The revenue generated from the sale of processed wood and related products not only funds the Lukashenko regime but also contributes a substantial portion directly to his personal fund.

Repressions in Belarus persist and even intensify, taking on inhumane forms. The war instigated by Russia against Ukraine, with the assistance and active support of Lukashenko’s regime, continues and is expanding to other regions.

It is evident that the international community remains steadfast in its commitment to holding the Lukashenko regime accountable for its actions. The continuation of sanctions underscores the world's refusal to tolerate the oppression and human rights abuses inflicted upon the people of Belarus. The democratic forces in Belarus stand united in their determination to bring about positive change and restore freedom, justice, and dignity to our nation.

In the current situation, it is crucial for democratic nations worldwide to react promptly to the actions of both regimes. Such reactions serve the dual purpose of imposing consequences and preventing further aggressive actions and dangers.

Therefore, it is imperative to achieve early and comprehensive harmonization of sanctions against both the Lukashenko regime and Russia. Additionally, a ban on the transit of sanctioned goods through Belarusian territory is necessary. We have already communicated these proposals to all EU member states through official letters.

The need for harmonizing imposed sanctions on Russia and the Lukashenko regime is also driven by the fact that, within the framework of the Union State, Russia and Belarus effectively form a common economic space, or rather, a single economy. The lack of harmonization of sanctions against both countries turns Belarus into a "gray zone" and facilitates offshore activities aimed at circumventing sanctions.

In May 2023, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in support of the democratic forces in Belarus, adopted a resolution titled “On the appeal of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the World Trade Organization, governments and parliaments of foreign states regarding the introduction of sanctions on the import of wood and wood products, fish and seafood from the Russian Federation and Belarus, a ban on the export of equipment and its components, as well as the inadmissibility of the functioning of international environmental certification systems on the territory of the Russian Federation”.

Ukraine has joined the efforts to harmonize sanctions against Russian and Belarusian wood and related products. According to the Ukrainian side, it is necessary to halt the import of these goods to the EU.

In our view, imports to the West should also be halted for other groups of goods where there is a disparity in the application of sanctions between Russia and the Lukashenko regime. This includes products from the chemical industry, glass and glass products, coal, peat, and other goods. Similarly, harmonization should be pursued concerning exports from democratic countries to Belarus and Russia.

Sanctions are an effective and civilized response to the unacceptable actions of the Lukashenko regime. For this civilized response to achieve its objectives, it is crucial and necessary to maintain a united and unwavering stance among countries that have declared their commitment to human rights, international law, and the preservation of peace.


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