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Sanctions without effect on Belarus for Putin

On Monday, the European Union foreign ministers are scheduled to give the green light to another round of sanctions against Belarus, the fifth in a row.

Among the proposals are imposing sanctions on Minsk airport, as a way to reduce the number of migrants from the Middle East, according to Reuters.

The European Union’s dilemma

The crisis on the Belarus-Poland border – where thousands of people hope to cross the EU border and reach Germany and other Western European countries – highlights a dilemma for the EU.

Since the elections in Belarus in August last year, in which Alexander Lukashenko is widely believed to have cheated the victory, relations with the European Union have deteriorated sharply. Today, many observers believe that the autocratic president has somewhat given up hope for effective relations, and so far European sanctions do not seem to have affected the Russian-backed Lukashenko.

– If the goal was to change Belarus policy, they did not succeed, says Jacob Hidensko, head of research at the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI).

‘Do not criticize oneself’

Lukashenko sees the punishments as unfair, because he does not consider himself to have done anything wrong, according to Hidinskog.

– He believes that this whole crisis arose because of the European Union and sees no reason to change his behavior.

At the same time, sanctions are one of the few tools available to the EU, although Brussels is pulling the other end of the rope.

– The European Union tried to persuade other countries to stop air travel to Belarus, for example Iraq already this summer. It had a temporary effect, but flights have since been resumed.

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European Union Commissioner Margaritis Schinas is currently traveling in the region to put pressure on countries from which migrants come, such as the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

It’s hard to act differently

Belarusian Ingmar Oldberg, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Institute (UI), believes that the EU’s move could push Belarus further into the arms of its powerful neighbor Russia, on which it is now completely dependent, both economically and in terms of security policy.

He also points out that while the EU may find it difficult to act differently – the same is true of Belarus.

– Previously, he had the best relations with his neighbors Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, but now he has torn bridges against them too. Lukashenko really has very few options.

The leaders of the great powers make up

Now the eyes of the outside world are increasingly turning to Moscow. Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to direct the situation — a move that suits Putin perfectly, according to Jakob Hidenskog.

– Two great-power leaders are forming on their heads in other smaller countries, such as Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. It fits Russia like a glove, this is how you look at yourself and the world around you.