Published on June 20, 2023
On June 8, 2023, The Republic of Belarus (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (“Regulations”) were laid before UK parliament. The Regulations significantly expand the UK’s package of sanctions targeting Belarus in response to the continued facilitation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by the Belarusian regime.
New sanctions legislation allowing the UK government to target exports from Belarus funding the Lukashenko regime and crack down on Russia’s efforts to circumvent sanctions. The measures also give the government grounds to prevent designated Belarusian media organisations from spreading propaganda in the UK, including over the internet, as the regime continues to actively facilitate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spread false narratives.
The Belarusian regime has permitted the use of its territory and airspace by Russia to conduct missile and drone strikes against Ukraine in addition to the provision of significant training and logistical support to Russian forces.
Below are the highlights of the new UK sanctions:
- Ban on imports: The UK is banning the import of gold, cement, wood and rubber to the UK from Belarus, which are sources of revenue for the Lukashenko regime, building on measures introduced last July to ban the import and export of goods worth around £60 million from Belarus.
- Blocking exports: UK is blocking exports to Belarus from the UK of banknotes and machinery, alongside goods, technologies and materials that could be used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
- Restrictions on designated Belarusian medica companies: UK online measures provide the government with the ability to prevent designated Belarusian media companies from spreading propaganda in the UK. That means social media companies and internet service providers will restrict access to the websites of sanctioned Belarusian media organisations, as is already the case for sanctioned Russian organisations.
- UK measures in this package crack down on those circumventing sanctions given the close links between the Belarusian and Russian economies, applying measures to Belarus which UK has already applied to Russia to close loopholes and address sanctions circumvention.This includes through limiting the funds that Belarus is able to raise by further restricting Belarusian access to UK financial markets and preventing the import of goods such as gold which may have originated in Russia. This reflects the UK’s wider work bearing down on those who prop up Putin’s war in Ukraine, coming down hard on sanctions evaders; closing loopholes; and working with our international partners to undermine attempts to build global resilience to Western sanctions.
- This latest package builds upon the significant sanctions against Belarus already in place, including last year banning the import and export of goods worth around £60 million for the regime’s active support of Putin’s war. That covers bans from Belarus to the UK on the export of oil refining goods, advanced technology components, luxury goods and imports to the UK of Belarusian iron and steel.
- The UK has targeted people and companies who have engaged in, supported or promoted the repression of fundamental human rights and freedoms in Belarus. That includes sanctioning more than 100 people and organisations, such as freezing the assets of major Belarusian state-owned enterprises which are significant sources of revenue and foreign currency for the Lukashenko regime.
The UK is resolute in condemning the brutal campaign by the regime against the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Belarusian people – such as routinely subjecting citizens to inhumane and degrading treatment and hindering any form of opposition. With over 1,400 political prisoners in Belarus, the UK calls for their immediate and unconditional release.