The EU will adopt the fifth package of sanctions in November; the Belarusian regime continues diplomacy in the “far abroad”

Category status:
- (The situation has not changed)
04-10.10.2021
Фото: ec.europa.eu

Approval of the fifth package of EU sanctions is postponed until November. In response, the Belarusian regime continues with a foreign policy directed towards the states of the Asia-Pacific region and members of the Non-Aligned Movement. Meanwhile, Minsk attempts to avoid complete isolation from Western countries by invoking rhetoric regarding a unifying agenda between East and West.

The EU's approval of the fifth package of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities is postponed but is likely to be approved in November. The delay is probably due to the preparation and coordination of restrictions that are larger in scope than initially envisaged. In particular, the German government launched an investigation into the involvement of the Lukashenka regime in the migration crisis and also proposed expanding the sanctions regime against Belarus specifically to target people smuggling and the political exploitation of migrants.

Minsk's decision to expel the French ambassador, Nicolas de Lacoste, is likely to inspire support for tougher sanctions from Paris, which already intends to make the Belarusian crisis one of the key issues agenda items for the EU presidency in the first half of 2022.

The migration crisis remains a focus of concern for other Western countries, guaranteeing solidarity for further EU action. The foreign ministers of Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia adopted a joint communiqué in which Britain expressed solidarity with Lithuania and Latvia in the face of "Lukashenka's recent hybrid operation to send irregular migrants across the EU border to put pressure on Belarus' European neighbours."

Relations with the United States continued to deteriorate as US authorities demanded the closure of the Consulate General of Belarus in New York and recalled Ambassador Julie Fisher in response to the decision of the Belarusian authorities to limit the number of diplomats in the American diplomatic mission in Minsk.

Meanwhile, Belarus continues to respond to pressure by cultivating more distant foreign policy initiatives. Minsk does not intend to completely fence itself off from the West and still favours the formation of a global architecture of inclusive development, including partnerships with the EAEU, SCO, CSTO, CIS, European Union and ASEAN. On the sidelines of the 6th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei attended a session with the Foreign Ministers of Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Minister of Tourism of Israel, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Central Asia and others.

Minsk also intensified work at the 60th-anniversary meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, as Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik held talks with colleagues from Russia, Serbia, India, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Yemen, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, and Namibia, trying to curry support in countering "illegal, unilateral political and economic sanctions against sovereign states."

However, Minsk has not yet achieved substantive progress with the most important aspect of “far abroad” foreign policy – support from China. Assistance from Beijing is conditional upon Minsk returning to a multi-vector foreign policy and normalization of relations with the West. However, the easterly foreign policy focus towards the Asia-Pacific region is as much due to Russian pressure and EU sanctions, which means that the pendulum will soon swing back towards the West.

 

 

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