EU foreign ministers to release expanded list of sanctions on Belarus

EU foreign ministers are set to release an expanded list of sanctions on Belarus today. The move follows a series

EU foreign ministers Belarus

Photo: Mario Salerno

EU foreign ministers are set to release an expanded list of sanctions on Belarus today.

The move follows a series sanctions between the EU and Belarus as Brussels continues to dispute the legitimacy of recently re-elected authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

A standoff is likely to ensue. Given Russian support for his regime, Lukashenko is unlikely to open talks with the exiled opposition, as per EU demands. Therefore, EU travel bans and asset freezes are most likely going to be expanded to include other officials in Lukashenko’s government.

The uncertainty will come in the medium-term future, as to what price Lukashenko is willing to pay to the Kremlin to remain in power. If he seeks full acquiescence to Moscow, this will limit his power in Belarus. Long dormant post-Soviet integration treaties with Russia could allow a single currency, more financial support, further alignment of joint military commands and ultimately, political union. Economic and military integration is more palatable to Lukashenko than full political union. However, his wont of using relations with the West as leverage is now over, rendering the EU powerless. Given the opposition’s openness to Russian relations, Moscow now has leverage.

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