Belarus has been accused of launching a “hybrid attack” on the bloc using migrants as revenge for previous sanctions. Minsk termed fresh sanctions "absurd".

Lukashenko has been accused of encouraging migrants to illegally cross the border into the EU in revenge for previous sanctions slapped on Minsk.
Lukashenko has been accused of encouraging migrants to illegally cross the border into the EU in revenge for previous sanctions slapped on Minsk. (Reuters)

The United States, European Union, Britain and Canada have slapped simultaneous sanctions on dozens of officials, organisations and companies in Belarus.

The US State Department said on Thursday that the US Treasury has “identified three aircraft as blocked property and designated 32 individuals and entities, including Belarusian state-owned enterprises, government officials, and other persons, who support the regime and facilitate its repression.”

The EU, meanwhile, imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 17 more people, including senior border guard and military officials, government representatives and judges.

The measures also hit air carriers, including state carrier Belavia, and travel groups accused by the EU of helping to bring migrants to Belarus with the aim of helping them cross into the 27-country bloc, chiefly through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Britain said it has imposed sanctions “on eight Belarusian individuals responsible for repression and human rights violations.”

It also froze the assets of OJSC Belaruskali, one of the world’s largest producers of potash fertilizer, which is a major source of revenue for the Belarus government.

The State Department said that “today’s actions demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to abuse people seeking only to live in freedom.”

READ MORE: HRW: Belarus, Poland committed serious human rights violations at border

'Absurd'

Belarus denounced the latest sanctions.

"The depth of the absurdity of the EU's decision on the latest sanctions against sovereign Belarus and its very content is by now difficult to comprehend," the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The three countries and the EU have targeted Belarus since President Alexander Lukashenko won yet another term in office last year, after elections that the West and other observers say were fraudulent, and over the security crackdown on peaceful protesters that followed.

Lukashenko has been accused of encouraging migrants to illegally cross the border into the EU in revenge for previous sanctions slapped on Minsk over human rights abuses.

At least 8,000 migrants, many of them Iraqis, have entered the EU without authorisation this year from Belarus. Lithuania and Poland declared a state of emergency at their borders to stop people crossing.

Several people died, trapped in the Poland-Belarus border zone in sub-zero temperatures.

READ MORE: Belarus criticises EU for its refusal to accept migrants stuck at border

Source: TRTWorld and agencies