sanctions-policy 03 June 2021

NATO boss pushes for tougher Belarus sanctions

In a 1 June joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described it as ‘absolutely unacceptable about what Belarus did, the forced landing of a civilian aircraft on its way from one NATO capital – Athens, to another NATO capital – Vilnius,’ and called on those responsible to be arrested ‘immediately’, and for an ‘independent, impartial, international investigation’ to be held.

Stoltenberg said that he welcomed ‘sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and other NATO Allies, and the EU, as a clear message, and sending a message that has consequences when the regime in Minsk behaves the way it did’, adding,

‘I think the most important thing now is to make sure that those sanctions that are agreed are fully implemented. And I also know that other Allies are looking into where they can step up further. It has to be clear that when the regime, like the regime in Minsk, behaves the way they did, violating basic international norms and rules, we will impose costs on them.’

Reuters reports that EU officials are preparing sanctions against the national airline, Belavia, and around a dozen Belarusian aviation officials.

Enrico Carisch, WorldECR ‘Wise Head’ and a former UN sanctions monitor, said that actions taken by the EU reaction ‘will demonstrate once again that sanctions are a convenient response but do not replace policy.’

‘Unless we see the EU articulate a clearer policy on President Alexander Lukashenko, the Ryanair incident will be one of many tragedies to which nobody seems to have a realistic political answer ready.’ He said that the EU’s preference appears to be ‘…to bide for time in the hope that Russia-Belarus relations will cycle from their current highpoint to the inevitable low point when Putin will want to be paid back for the political favours he is now granting Lukashenko. At that point, targeted sanctions pressure may yield a change in government. But that could be years from now.’