The United States has held off on joining Britain and Canada in imposing sanctions on Belarus in hope that the European Union can overcome differences, (mainly concerning an agreement that Belarus sanctions move ahead in conjunction with Turkey) paving the way to coordinated U.S. and EU sanctions, four sources said.
The EU vowed in August to impose sanctions on Belarus for alleged fraud in its Aug. 9 election and for human rights abuses in ensuing protests, but an agreement that such sanctions move in parallel with Turkey over Cyprus EEZ violations was not implemented and the situation is frozen.
Six sources told Reuters last week that Britain, Canada and the United States planned to impose sanctions on individual Belarusians in a coordinated move. Only London and Ottawa followed suit on Tuesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, three sources said that Washington refrained because it believed the EU might achieve consensus at today’s EU council.
One source familiar with the matter told Reuters that a U.S. package, including human rights sanctions, was essentially ready, but the timing of any announcement was uncertain.
The sanctions aim to impose consequences for the disputed election, which the opposition says was stolen, and for the treatment of protesters in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled for 26 years.
More than 12 thousand people have been arrested since Lukashenko, who denies electoral fraud, was named the election’s landslide winner. Major opposition figures are either in jail or in exile.