EU foreign ministers have given the go-ahead to sanctions on President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus over the violent crackdown on protesters after the country’s disputed August 9 election.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that “disproportionate response” had been used in the authorities’ response to demonstrations over the weekend, as well as “a complete lack of will” on the part of the Belarussian president to “bring a democratic, a peaceful solution to the situation.”
After a council meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers said in a statement that “the EU stands ready to take further restrictive measures, including against entities and high-ranking officials, including A. Lukashenko.”
At the same meeting, ministers also agreed to sanction those involved in the suspected poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, agreeing with Germany and France that Moscow is responsible for the attack on his life.
A report from the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW last week found that Navalny had been poisoned with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
Legal texts must now be prepared before experts from the 27 EU states can give their final approval, Borrell explained.
The poisoning of Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has further strained relations between the EU and Russia.
Moscow has denied any involvement in the case and called for a criminal investigation instead.
But experts say that sanctions can be effective, especially when they target individuals.
“Europe, as we’ve seen has leverage when it is united,” said Susan Stewart, German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
“The individuals that are targeted do feel the pinch,” she said.