Belarus faces new sanctions from the EU, US, UK and Canada after Ryanair flight was diverted

On June 21, 2021, the United States, the EU, the United Kingdom and Canada announced coordinated sanctions following the forced and illegal landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the arrest of journalists Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega by the Belarusian authorities in May 2021 . The sanctions include new EU sectoral sanctions against specific sectors of the Belarusian economy, as well as targeted financial sanctions against dozens of individuals and organizations related to alleged human rights violations and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists in Belarus.

The new sanctions follow the reactivation of longstanding sanctions against nine Belarusian companies and their subsidiaries by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department on June 3, 2021, as in ours Blog post from April 20, 2021.

New EU sanctions

Names of natural and legal persons

The EU Council has introduced new targeted sanctions against 78 individuals and 8 organizations (Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/1001; Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2021/1002; Council Regulation (EU) 2021/996; Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/997; Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/999). The target group also includes several prominent business people who, according to the EU, support the Lukashenko regime and benefit from it. EU sanctions against Belarus now apply to a total of 166 people and 15 institutions.

Named Individuals are subject to asset freezes and EU operators are prohibited from providing funds to them. In addition, individuals are banned from entering the EU.

Sectoral sanctions against Belarus

The EU Council has EU legislation as in Council decision (CFSP) 2021/1031 and Council Regulation (EU) 2021/1030, which provides for sectoral sanctions similar to those imposed on the Russian economy. These types of sanctions are different from the targeted financial restrictions and travel bans on individuals and businesses. The sectoral sanctions include:

  • a ban on the sale, delivery, transfer or export to anyone in Belarus or for use in Belarus by specific equipment, technology or software primarily intended for monitoring or wiretapping internet and telephone communications;
  • a ban on the provision of technical assistance, financial assistance, or intermediary services related to specific equipment, technology or software primarily intended for monitoring or tapping Internet and telephone communications with people in Belarus or for use in Belarus;
  • a ban on the provision of telecommunications or internet surveillance or wiretapping services to or for the benefit of the Belarusian government, public bodies, companies and agencies, or any person or entity acting on their behalf or on their instructions;
  • a ban on the sale, supply, transfer or export of dual-use goods and technology for military purposes or to specific persons, organizations or institutions in Belarus (lists have not yet been issued for this purpose);
  • a ban on the provision of technical assistance, funding or financial assistance related to dual-use goods and technology for military purposes or to specific persons or entities in Belarus (lists have not yet been drawn up for this purpose);
  • Restrictions on trading in Petroleum products, Potassium chloride (“Potash”) and goods used for the manufacture or manufacture of Tobacco products. For example, in relation to petroleum products, it is prohibited:
    • to import the listed mineral oil products into the EU if they originate from Belarus or were exported from Belarus;
    • to buy petroleum products located in or originating in Belarus;
    • To transport petroleum products if they come from Belarus or are exported from Belarus to another country;
    • to provide, directly or indirectly, technical assistance, brokerage services, financing or financial assistance, including financial derivatives, as well as insurance and reinsurance in connection with the prohibitions set out in the preceding points;
  • Restrictions on access to EU capital markets for i) Belarus, its government, corporations or public authorities, ii) those in Annex IX and those in possession of such institutions, and iii) those who act on behalf of or on the direction of the aforesaid institutions. These restrictions apply to:
    • Transactions in transferable securities and money market instruments with a term of more than 90 days; and
    • new loans or credits with a term of more than 90 days;
  • Bans on the provision of insurance and reinsurance to the Belarusian government and Belarusian public institutions, companies and agencies; and
  • the European Investment Bank will cease all disbursements or payments under existing agreements related to public sector projects and all existing technical assistance service contracts.

For most of the above-mentioned prohibitions there is the possibility to benefit from exceptions or to obtain exceptions.

New UK sanctions

The The UK government announced the appointment of 11 people and two bodies under Regulations of the Republic of Belarus (sanctions) (EU exit) 2019 (SI 2019/600). The victims include senior officials of the Belarusian regime and BNK (UK) Ltd, an exporter of Belarusian oil products. The UK sanctions against Belarus now apply to a total of 99 individuals and 9 entities.

The Designated Persons are subject to an Asset Freeze and any UK person or person within the UK is prohibited from providing or for the benefit of the funds or economic resources of – or them. The prohibition on handling the Designated Person’s funds or economic resources extends to legal persons which directly or indirectly own or control them, even if that legal person is not itself listed as a Designated Person by the UK. In addition, the named persons are subject to a UK travel ban.

The Press release In addition to the June 21 announcement, it was also noted that “Britain is also developing plans for further measures targeting specific sectors of the Belarusian economy”.

New US sanctions

In conjunction with the announcements by the EU and the UK OFAC named 16 individuals and five corporations as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) according to Executive Order (EO) 13405 dated June 20, 2006, “Blocking the property of certain persons who undermine democratic processes or institutions in Belarus”. The targets include President Alexander Lukashenko’s press secretary and the chairman of the upper house of the Belarusian parliament. The five SDN entities are:

  • The internal troops of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Belarus;
  • The Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the MVD of the Republic of Belarus;
  • Internal Affairs Directorate of the Brest Oblast Executive Committee;
  • State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (the Belarusian KGB); and
  • Akrestsina internment camp.

Blocking sanctions under EO 13405 prohibits US persons from trading directly or indirectly in SDNs designated under the EO, as well as with legal entities that own 50 percent or more of SDNs. The property and interests of SDNs (and companies 50 percent or more owned by them) will be frozen (frozen) if they are in the United States or are owned or controlled by a US person.

OFAC also issued General license 3 (GL-3) according to EO 13405, which authorizes US persons to conduct business that are necessary and normally in connection with the request, receipt, use, payment or trading in licenses, permits, certificates or notices issued or registered by the Belarusian KGB for the import, distribution or use of IT products in Belarus. Any goods or technology exported, re-exported or provided to Belarus that are subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce to qualify for GL-3. GL-3 only approves the payment of fees to the Belarusian KGB of up to $ 5,000 per calendar year.

Like in OFAC. explained FAQ 913, GL-3 “does not authorize the export, re-export or supply of any goods, technology or services to the Belarusian KGB or any other banned person, except for the limited purposes of compliance with the rules and regulations it administers and certain acts and investigations that concern the Belarusian KGB or apply for certain licenses or permits for the import, distribution or use of IT products in Belarus. ” FAQ 912 states that GL-3 “only approves certain transactions and activities with the Belarusian KGB in its administrative function” and only for the limited purposes described in the GL.

Meanwhile Canada Imposed targeted sanctions on 17 individuals and five companies in Belarus according to the regulations on special economic measures (Belarus). The objectives are in line with those of the EU and the UK.

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