The European Union (EU) will adopt a series of economic measures on Monday against Alexander Lukashenko's regime to punish the repression and diversion of an aircraft for arresting a member of the opposition, diplomatic sources said today.
The 27 foreign ministers are being asked to give their assent "to hit their wallets" during a meeting in Luxembourg, a diplomat explained.
The sanctions will target potash exports, the tobacco, oil and petrochemical sectors, weapons and equipment used to suppress the opposition, as well as dual-use products, political and military, he said. Measures against the financial sector are also being considered, the diplomat added.
"These are sanctions that will do harm," European leaders demanded after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius diverted over Minsk to arrest two of its passengers, opposition journalist Roman Protasevic and a Russian friend. of Sofia Sapega, the diplomat commented.
"The aim is to cut Lukashenko's sources of income," said another European diplomat. "The areas targeted by the EU are dominated by large state-owned companies that have very strong ties to the regime and the president," he explained.
"The European Union does not often adopt economic sanctions and that takes time," said another diplomat. "After the green light that is expected on Monday, a legal text will have to be finalized in order for them to enter into force as soon as possible".
The unanimity of the 27 is required for the adoption of sanctions.
Austria had reservations about economic sanctions but lifted them today, diplomats told AFP.
"All states have made compromises and accepted that the measures could have a potential impact on their interests," said a European diplomat.
The ministers "will also approve" the addition of 78 names and 7 entities to the list of Belarusian officials sanctioned for cracking down on opposition, seven of whom are involved in diverting Ryanair flight, according to the same source.
These sanctions are individual. They will ban the residence of these persons and confiscate their assets in the EU. European funding will also be prohibited for the said entities.
The EU has already imposed sanctions on 88 members of the regime, including President Lukashenko and his son.
The EU recognizes that these sanctions will have consequences for the citizens of the former Soviet republic. A ban on flights to the EU imposed on the national airline Belavia and the suspension of European air connections have penalized Belarusians' travel.
Self-imposed opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will have a working breakfast with the ministers before their meeting and then travel to Brussels, where she is scheduled to give a press conference.