Russia not to respond immediately to EU, US sanctions against Belarus

MOSCOW, August 15 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia will not respond immediately to EU and U.S. economic sanctions against Belarusian companies, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

“It is my first belief that they [sanctions] are never effective. On the contrary, they turn against those who impose them,” he said after a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Russia-Belarus Union State on Monday, August 15.

According to Putin, Belarus is living through a difficult period of recovery from the global financial and economic crisis. But he is confident that Belarus “will persevere through this period of hardship and turbulence”.

“I don’t think it would be advisable to respond to this in any way. We do not respond immediately to such things,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich asked his Russian counterpart to work out a set of measures in a bilateral or trilateral format in order to support Minsk in connection with U.S. sanctions.

“The Russian Federation has always supported the Republic of Belarus. Tools for providing appropriate support can be found both on a bilateral and trilateral basis,” Myasnikovich said.

On August 11, the United States imposed new economic sanctions on four major Belarusian state-owned enterprises “to respond to the continued incarceration of political prisoners and crackdown on political activists, journalists and civil society representatives”, a spokesperson for U.S. Department of State said.

The new economic sanctions will affect four major Belarusian state-owned enterprises: the Belshina tire factory; Grodno Azot, which manufactures fertilizer; Grodno Khimvolokno, a fiber manufacturer; and Naftan, a major oil refinery.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the four enterprises have been “determined to be owned or controlled by the Belneftekhim conglomerate, an entity already designated under Executive Order 13405” back in 2007.

“The intent to levy additional sanctions was announced by President Obama on May 27 to respond to the continued incarceration of political prisoners and crackdown on political activists, journalists and civil society representatives. The new sanctions augment the travel restrictions, asset freezes and sanctions announced on January 31. These measures target those responsible for the repression in Belarus following the December 19 presidential elections,” the Department of State said.

“The United States, in concert with our European partners, will continue to monitor developments in Belarus and to take measures to hold accountable those responsible for the repression of fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. These U.S. actions are not directed at the people of Belarus. An integral component of U.S. policy has been to increase support for the people of Belarus as they seek to build a modern, democratic and prosperous society. We reiterate our call on the Government of Belarus to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners,” the Department of State said.


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