Moscow Reiterates Support for Belarus in EU Standoff

Moscow on Wednesday slammed EU pressure on Belarus, reiterating its support for the former Soviet republic.

“The pressure that is being exerted on Belarus now is not without precedent,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “[However] each time the EU realized that international sanctions are futile and counterproductive.”

Russia has no intention of introducing sanctions against the EU over its sanctions on Belarus, Lavrov said.

“That is not our method,” he said. “Acting in accordance with the ‘eye for an eye’ principle is a violation of our principles.”

“Our principles are that any issues should be settled not through enforcement but through involvement.”

Belarusian-EU relations became aggravated in late February, when the EU expanded its sanctions against Belarus over human rights violations while Minsk advised all the EU ambassadors to leave the country. In late March the EU further expanded the list of Belarusian officials and companies covered by the sanctions.

The relations worsened even more after Belarus expelled Swedish Ambassador Stefan Eriksson over an incident in which a Swedish light plane dropped hundreds of teddy bears bearing pro-democracy slogans over Belarus.

Last Wednesday, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said it would withdraw its entire embassy staff from Stockholm and ordered the Swedish government to pull its diplomats out of Minsk by August 30.


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