In relation to Belarus, the sanctions regime has existed since 2006. Then, according to the West, the country held non-free and orchestrated elections, in which Lukashenka won. After that, other states had no choice but to impose sanctions. Lukashenko himself, in his personal capacity, is on the US sanctions list dated June 26, 2006. At that time, in Europe, too, an appropriate decision was made on sanctions against the Lukashenka regime. The European Union accuses Aleksandr Grigorievich of violating democratic standards for holding elections and has created tools for imposing personal sanctions against those around him who enjoy privileges and advantages because of their proximity to power.
In August last year, another non-free election was held in Belarus. For this reason, at the moment, the EU has already introduced four packages of sanctions. Now the fifth package is being prepared, but these sanctions are no longer imposed for violations committed during the elections or undermining the foundations of democracy. These restrictions are introduced at the suggestion of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia for the policy of sending illegal emigrants to the countries of the European Union.
Lukashenka now has a very narrow range of means that can be used against his opponents in Europe. He has already done everything he could, and now he has closed the borders and is sending illegal immigrants from different countries to them. The European Union as an integration association must somehow respond to this migration crisis, and it will respond with sanctions. The restrictions, as expected, this time will affect those persons who are directly related to the actions of sending migrants to the EU countries, as well as those who benefit from this. I got the impression that many businessmen and oligarchs in the orbit of the current government will receive sanctions.
The previous, fourth package of sanctions, when BelAZ, Belaruskali and others fell under the restrictions, concerned some sectors of the Belarusian economy, but was not directed against them. Here you need to understand that the economy of Belarus is very similar to the Russian one – there is a high share of the state sector and state presence. The fourth package of restrictions was introduced not against certain sectors of the economy, but against specific companies and players. The justification stated: “These companies are state-owned, and by virtue of their state status, they are associated with the Lukashenka regime and support it.” There is a real risk that some other state-owned enterprises may fall under these restrictions simply because they are state-owned.
In my opinion, Lukashenka has no leverage left over the EU. Now the regime is using all the possibilities of pressure, in particular, by creating a migration crisis, and it has nothing more to offer. Maybe Lukashenka will try to create some new zones of instability, for example, to conduct military exercises – unilaterally or jointly with Russia. But it will no longer be possible to lift the sanctions. The European Union in its position has clearly indicated that it will not carry out any forceful actions against the Lukashenka regime. But he will act through sanctions against the elite and state-owned enterprises. And Alyaksandr Lukashenka will not be able to oppose this.