US May Impose Sanctions on Belarus Over Migrant Crisis

Published November 16th, 2021 - 07:22 GMT
US confirms working on Belarus sanctions amid migrant crisis
Western countries have accused the Belarusian regime, which is backed by Russia, of engineering the crisis in retaliation against EU sanctions, charges that Minsk has denied. (Photo by Leonid SHCHEGLOV / BELTA / AFP)
Highlights
'We call on the regime to immediately halt its campaign of orchestrating and coercing irregular migrant flows': State Dept

The US confirmed on Monday that it is working on a follow-up tranches of sanctions on Belarus after a senior EU official said the penalties would be forthcoming.

The confirmation comes after EU top diplomats agreed to broaden the sanctions criteria in response to the Belarus migrant crisis, providing a legal basis for restrictive measures against airlines and travel agencies involved in transporting migrants to the bloc’s borders.

The action had been widely telegraphed by the bloc amid the ongoing migrant crisis, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week in Washington that the Biden administration would be issuing its own penalties in December.

State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed the forthcoming action, saying the US is "preparing follow-up sanctions in close coordination with EU and other partners and allies."

Those sanctions, Price said, "will continue to hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for its ongoing attacks on democracy, on human rights on international norms." He was referring to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's government.

"We call on the regime to immediately halt its campaign of orchestrating and coercing irregular migrant flows across borders into Europe," he told reporters.

 

"As long as the regime refuses to respect its international obligations and commitments, as long as it undermines peace and security of its neighbors and of the broader continent, as long as it continues to repress and abuse its own people and hold political prisoners, we will continue to put more pressure, not less pressure, on the Lukashenko regime, as we call for accountability," he added.

According to the EU, Belarus reaches out to potential travelers through seemingly official channels, including diplomatic missions and travel agencies, and invites them to Belarus by offering visas. They are then allegedly guided to the EU border.

NATO and the EU consider Belarus’ approach towards migrants a hybrid attack meant to destabilize and undermine security in Europe countries through non-military means.

The EU countries bordering Belarus – Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland – have reported a dramatically growing number of irregular crossings since August.

Over 8,000 people tried to enter the bloc via the Belarus-EU border so far this year, up sharply from just 150 last year.

At least 2,000 people, including women and children, have been stuck at the Belarusian-Polish border area in dire conditions over the last week.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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