The United States, Britain, and Canada could soon impose sanctions on Belarusian officials for their violent crackdown on protesters following a presidential election widely viewed to have been rigged.
The three countries could announce the sanctions as early as September 25, Reuters reported, citing four identified officials, just two days after Alyaksandr Lukashenka held a secretive inauguration deemed “fraudulent” by many leaders in the West.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on September 24 that the United Kingdom was initiating its own sanctions, in coordination with the United States and Canada, after the European Union's measures were delayed by Cyprus.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians continue to demand the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka amid a brutal crackdown on protesters. The West refuses to recognize him as the country's legitimate leader after an August 9 election considered fraudulent.
Raab said London was working with Washington and Ottawa "to prepare appropriate listings as a matter of urgency" against Belarusian authorities.
Hundreds of thousands of Belarusian citizens have taken to the streets across the country to protest the outcome of the August 9 presidential election that gave Lukashenka another five years in power.
The protesters claim the vote was rigged in Lukashenka’s favor and have called on him to step down. Lukashenka, who was sworn in on September 23, has sought to quash the protests with mass arrests and beatings that have outraged Western officials.
Raab said that given the delay by the EU and Lukashenka’s “fraudulent inauguration,” he has directed the government to prepare sanctions against those responsible for the “serious human rights violations."
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said on September 11 that Washington would “soon” impose sanctions on individuals in Belarus who are responsible for rigging the election as well the beatings and torture of protesters.
Biegun said the United States was consulting with the EU on its sanctions list but that the timetable for announcing them may differ from Brussels due to different approval procedures in the bloc.
The passage of EU sanctions needs unanimous approval from all 27 member countries and Cyprus has so far refused to vote, insisting that the EU must extend sanctions over Turkish gas drilling operations in its waters at the same time.
The United States has been pressing Cyprus to lift its veto on proposed EU sanctions against Belarus to allow a coordinated response to the crisis.