EU to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week

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BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) – The European Union is planning to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week for helping the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hitting exports, oligarchs, central bank and cutting Belarusian banks off from SWIFT, a senior EU official said on Monday.

“In terms of the economic sanctions package, it’s imminent, it’ll probably be proposed either today or tomorrow,” the official, who asked not to be named, said.

“I would expect that in the course of this week we will introduce restrictive measures against the most important economic sectors in Belarus,” he said.

The official said the aim will be to stop exports of any further Belarusian goods and that will include mineral fuels, tobacco, wood, cement and iron steel. The EU will also remove some of the loopholes that were still there on exports of potash.

“We’re also doing the export restrictions on dual use goods, and in addition we’re now looking at whether we can replicate what we’re doing with the Central bank with Russia and on the swift measures with the Belarusian economy,” the official said.

Belarus nuclear referendum ‘greatly worrying’, EU’s Borrell says

The referendum vote in Belarus to ditch its non-nuclear status was a “greatly worrying” move orchestrated by the country’s strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

The vote to change the constitution, passed by 65% according to official data, could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

It comes at a time when Lukashenko has fallen in line behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military assault on Ukraine after earlier playing an intermediary role between the two neighbours.

“Yesterday’s constitutional referendum in Belarus was orchestrated by Lukashenko to gain additional tools to further consolidate his power,” Borrell tweeted. “The deletion of Article 18 on Belarus’ non-nuclear status is greatly worrying.”

Photo – A handout still image taken from handout video made available by the Russian Defence ministry press-service shows Russian and Belarusian National flags during the joint operational exercise of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia ‘Union Courage-2022’ at a firing range in Brest region of Belarus, 21 February 2022. EPA-EFE/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE

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