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Lukashenko as a threat to the entire region

Pavel Latushka: Deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

The financial sector holds paramount importance in the Belarusian economy, playing a crucial role in the public administration system. Sanctions targeting the financial sector have a significant impact on the overall functioning of the economy. However, one may question whether the current sanctions measures are sufficient.

The banking sector represents a key component of the financial sector. The largest banks in Belarus, along with the National Bank and the Ministry of Finance, are currently under sanctions imposed by the EU, the USA, and several other democratic nations worldwide. Prominent financial institutions such as the EBRD, World Bank, and EIB have suspended their cooperation with the Belarusian public sector. Additionally, many international financial markets have closed doors to new placements of Belarusian securities.

Numerous sanctions directly affect the Belarusian banking sector. For instance, specific Belarusian banks have been disconnected from the international interbank system for information transmission and payment processing, namely SWIFT. Simultaneously, financing programs and credit lines from international financial institutions have been curtailed.

Nevertheless, due to the gradual implementation of sanctions over time, the Belarusian financial system has largely adapted to the restrictive measures.

Consequently, the need for optimizing sanctions pressure has become pressing. One effective measure to combat evasion of restrictions could be the more active utilization of secondary sanctions against violators of the existing measures. By making the prospect of being sanctioned more realistic for potential and current evaders, European and, primarily, American partners should employ their secondary sanctions tools and demonstrate enforcement against entities that aid those who are on the sanction lists. This is one method to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions pressure.

Moreover, there are at least four other important tools to ensure the efficacy of sanctions in the banking sector:

  1. Freezing the assets of the National Bank of Belarus in the United States.

  2. Blocking correspondent accounts of Belarusian banks in the EU, USA, and other democratic countries.

  3. Imposing a ban on the import of dollar bills into Belarus.

  4. Searching for and freezing the assets of individuals and companies subject to sanctions.

The Lukashenko regime not only continues to violate the rights of Belarusians but also poses a threat to the entire region. The regime's relentless and systematic attacks on civil society, along with the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, provide ample justification for tightening sanctions against the regime. Effective sanctions serve as a tool to prevent such actions. Therefore, it is crucial to effectively employ all available means of exerting pressure on the regime.


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