Client Alert 11 Mar. 2022

Expanded Sanctions Imposed on Belarus by the U.S., EU, and UK

The full alert is available for download with footnotes here.

Since August 2021, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have increased sanctions imposed against the Republic of Belarus. The restrictive measures have been further expanded following the Russia/Ukraine armed conflict.

Below, Curtis provides a summary of the sanctions imposed against Belarus.

United States

A. E.O. 13405 (June 16, 2006)

The United States first imposed sanctions against Belarus on June 16, 2006 under President George W. Bush through E.O. 13405—Blocking Property of Certain Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Belarus. E.O. 13405 was adopted in response to what the U.S. perceived as an undemocratic election taking place in March 2006. This E.O. created a legal basis for blocking assets of persons determined by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of State, to undermine the democratic process in Belarus; to be responsible for or to have committed human right abuses; to be linked to persons engaged in public corruption; or similar wrongful activities. Among the Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) listed in 2006 was Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. E.O. 13405 served as a basis to designate eight individuals on October 2, 2020, based upon their involvement in the August 2020 Belarus presidential election, and 16 individuals and five entities on June 21, 2021, based upon the forced diversion of a Ryanair commercial flight flying from Greece to Lithuania.

B. E.O, 14038 (Aug. 9, 2021)

On August 9, 2021, U.S. President Joseph Biden issued E.O. 14038, titled Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus. This E.O. makes reference to “longstanding abuses aimed at suppressing democracy and the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus.” E.O. 14038 refers to “illicit and oppressive activities stemming from the August 9, 2020, fraudulent Belarusian presidential election and its aftermath, such as the elimination of political opposition and civil society organizations, and the regime’s disruption and endangering of international civil air travel.” E.O. 14038 authorizes the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of State, to impose blocking sanctions on, among others, any political subdivision, agency or instrumentality of the Government of Belarus; any person determined to operate in certain sectors of the economy of Belarus (including the defense, security, energy, potassium chloride (potash), tobacco products, construction, and transportation sectors); to be involved in actions threatening the peace and security of the territory of Belarus; to engage in actions or policies penalizing the exercise of human rights; or to be owned or controlled by the Government of Belarus.

On August 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated 23 individuals and 21 entities as SDNs, based upon their involvement in repressive activities in support of the Belarus regime. The sanctioned entities operate in the energy (e.g., BelKazTrans, Novopolotosk Limited Liability Company Interservice, Bremino Group), tobacco products (e.g., Inter Tobacco and Energo-Oil), construction (e.g., Dana Holdings Limited), and potash (e.g., Belaruskali OAO) sectors of the economy of Belarus. The sanctions were expanded on December 2, 2021, with designation of an additional 20 individuals and 12 entities. Three aircraft were listed as blocked property.

On February 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated 24 Belarusian individuals and entities, based upon Belarus’s support for, and facilitation of, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The designations target Belarus’s defense sector (entities and officials) and financial institutions (including State-owned banks). The same day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued two General Licenses: GL No. 6 (authorizing transactions for conduct of official business of the U.S. Government) and GL No. 7 (authorizing transactions with certain international organizations).

More recently, on March 4, 2022, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed sweeping export control restrictions on Belarus.

These controls, mirroring those imposed on Russia on February 24, 2022, are designed “to prevent the diversion of items, including technology and software, in the defense, aerospace, and maritime sectors to Russia through Belarus, and degrade both nations’ ability to sustain military aggression.” In addition, the Department of Commerce “will add entities that have been involved in, contributed to, or otherwise supported the Russian and Belarusian security services, military and defense sectors, and/or military and defense research and development efforts to the Entity List. These actions will ensure that the military as well as the aerospace, maritime and high-technology sectors do not obtain U.S. technology goods and technology that can be used to support Russian technical maintenance and innovation.” More information on export control measures imposed against Belarus may be found in this Curtis client alert:

European Union

The European Union (“EU”) first imposed sanctions against Belarus by Council Regulation 765/2006 (as amended). Initially, the sanctions consisted of an arms embargo; a ban on the export of goods for internal repression; and targeted asset freezes and travel bans.

Following the Belarusian presidential elections in August 2020, the EU progressively imposed restrictive measures through various rounds of sanctions up to December 2021. Regulation (EU) 2021/1030 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/1031 of June 24, 2021, introduced for the first time sectorial sanctions against Belarus. Specifically, the sanctions: (i) prohibit provision of insurance service to the Belarusian government and public bodies; (ii) establish restrictions on trade covering technology, or software for use in monitoring of internet and telephone communications as well as dual-use goods and military equipment; (iii) limit imports of certain petroleum products, potassium chloride and tobacco products; (iv) impose financial sanctions (e.g., limits on dealings with transferrable securities and money market instruments with a maturity exceeding 90 days issued after June 29, 2021 by the Belarusian Government or State-owned banks); (v) limit European Investment Bank technical assistance contracts and programs in Belarus; and (vi) require Member States to limit involvement in Belarus of multilateral development banks. The most recent sanctions prior to the current conflict were approved on December 2, 2021 in response to the humanitarian and migrant crisis at the Polish border.

The sanctions target 17 individuals and 11 entities (including Belavia Airlines, tour operators and hotels) that, according to the EU, have “participated in the instrumentalisation of migration for political purposes.”

Following the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, the EU has imposed additional sanctions against Belarus.

On February 24, 2022, the EU extended the Belarus sanctions regime until the end of February 2023, and amended the bases for the designation of 27 individuals.

On March 2, 2022, the EU adopted a new sanctions package concerning Belarus. The sanctions include:

  • New Designations: The EU added 22 individuals involved in the military sector of Belarus in response to their direct participation in the Russian military activities in the territory of Ukraine.
  • Trade Restrictions: The measures impact 70% of import volume originating in Belarus. They effectively limit imports of a wide array of products such as products for the manufacturing of tobacco, wood, cement, iron and steel, rubber, potash, machinery and mineral products. The provision of insurance, or reinsurance services, as well as related technical and financial assistance are also prohibited.

In addition, the EU expanded its export restrictions on dual-use goods, military equipment or the provision of related technical or financial assistance, absent authorization except for humanitarian purposes and non-military end users.

Attorney advertising. The material contained in this Client Alert is only a general review of the subjects covered and does not constitute legal advice. No legal or business decision should be based on its contents.

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