Self-proclaimed Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said that Moscow promised Minsk "economic assistance" amid new EU sanctions. On Thursday, July 1, Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the VIII Forum of the Regions of Belarus and Russia. Because of the pandemic, the event was held over video conference.
According to Lukashenko, before the meeting he and Putin had a telephone conversation, during which they agreed to "update" some "economic issues." Lukashenko did not specify what kind of financial support was discussed.
"Vladimir Vladimirovich, thank you for publicly supporting Belarus in a difficult period once again," Lukashenko said. The conversation focused on "the problem of the ongoing sanctions pressure on the republic," the Kremlin said.
On June 24, the European Union approved new economic sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko's regime. Brussels banned imports of petroleum products and potash fertilizers from Belarus. In addition, the new restrictions prohibit individuals and business entities from the EU to sell, supply or transfer products intended for production of tobacco products. The European Union has also imposed restrictions on access to its capital markets. It is forbidden to provide insurance services to the Belarusian government and state institutions and organizations. The European Investment Bank will stop funding projects in the public sector of Belarus.
The EU Council noted in a statement that Brussels imposed new sanctions in response to " to the escalation of serious human rights violations in Belarus and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists, as well as to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 and the related detention of journalist Raman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega."
On June 28, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that Minsk is suspending participation in the European Union's Eastern Partnership initiative in the face of EU sanctions and restrictions. Belarus has also banned the entry into its territory of "representatives of European structures and persons from the European Union who facilitated the introduction of restrictive measures" and said that it will continue to develop other responses, including economic ones.
Commenting on the decision of Alexander Lukashenko's regime, one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said that representatives of her team and democratic forces will continue to work with European partners.