In a coordinated move, the US, Britain, the EU, and Canada all imposed sanctions on Belarus, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Thursday.
Blinken said in a statement that the purpose of the sanctions is to “raise the cost” on the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The sanctions are also a response to a migrant crisis in Belarus.
The US and its allies have accused Minsk of purposely luring in migrants from war-torn countries in the Middle East to send them to borders with neighboring EU countries in retaliation for earlier sanctions, a charge Belarus denies.
“These sanctions are also in response to the Lukashenko regime’s callous exploitation of vulnerable migrants from other countries in order to orchestrate migrant smuggling along its border with EU states,” Blinken said.
The US Treasury Department said the new sanctions apply to 20 individuals and 12 entities in Belarus allegedly involved in the migrant crisis or for allegations of human rights violations.
The US and its allies refused to recognize Belarus’s August 2020 presidential election, which saw Lukashenko win another term. Since then, sanctions have been steadily applied to Belarus, and Lukashenko has forged stronger ties with Russia.