The E.U. adopts new sanctions against Belarus.
European Union foreign ministers have adopted new sanctions on the government of Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the Belarus leader, who has already been sanctioned for fraud in claiming a sweeping re-election victory in August and for a subsequent harsh suppression of dissent.
The new sanctions, approved by European governments on Monday, would target “individuals and entities organizing or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the E.U.’s external borders,” according to the European Commission, the bloc’s executive bureaucracy.
A list of those to be hit by asset freezes and travel bans under the new sanctions is expected to be finalized in coming days. Likely to be targeted are more than two dozen Belarusian officials; a Syrian airline, Cham Wings, for having transported migrants to Belarus; the Hotel Minsk in the Belarus capital, for housing migrants; and possibly Minsk airport, according to E.U. officials.
“Today’s decision reflects the determination by the European Union to stand up to the instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes,” said the E.U. foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles. “We are pushing back on this inhuman and illegal practice.”
The European Union has called Mr. Lukashenko’s efforts “a hybrid attack,” saying that he has encouraged migrants to fly into Belarus from countries like Syria and Iraq with the express purpose of sending them on to the European Union in retaliation for the earlier sanctions.
The new sanctions will have to undergo legal vetting by the European Commission before being implemented and coordinated with Britain, Canada and the United States, which could take several weeks.
The growing numbers of migrants at the Kuznica-Bruzgi border crossing, which has raised fears of further tragedy and confrontation between the two governments, appeared to be a response by Mr. Lukashenko to the meeting of the E.U. foreign ministers. Mr. Lukashenko has vowed to retaliate against fresh sanctions, though his main supporter, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, has chastised him for threatening to cut off supplies of the Russian natural gas that flows through his country to Europe.