The United States is preparing “follow up sanctions” designed to hold leaders in Belarus accountable for “ongoing attacks on democracy, human rights and international norms,” a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council said on Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned by the Lukashenka regime’s inhumane actions and strongly condemn their callous exploitation and coercion of vulnerable people,” the spokesman said.
The new sanctions will come in “close coordination with the EU and other partners and Allies.” They did not specify when they would come into place.
Thousands of migrants are stranded at the Belarus-Poland border, caught in the intensifying geopolitical dispute. The US, EU and NATO have all accused the Lukashenko regime of manufacturing the migrant crisis on the EU’s eastern frontier to destabilize the bloc as retribution for sanctions over human rights abuses.
Earlier, European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen told reporters she and President Joe Biden had discussed the possibility of new sanctions on Belarus in an Oval Office meeting. Western leaders are accusing the autocratic regime there of manufacturing a migrant crisis on the European Union’s eastern border.
“We will widen our sanctions against Belarus, very rapidly at the beginning of next week there will be a widening of sanctions against Belarus,” von der Leyen said in front of the White House.
She said her understanding is that US sanctions would go into place at the start of December.
In August, the White House announced a a sweeping executive order targeting those in the Belarusian regime involved in the repression of human rights and democracy in the former Soviet state.
The executive order was released on the one-year anniversary of Belarus’ election, which was declared fraudulent by the United States and much of the international community and sparked widespread protests throughout the country.
Other topics that arose during Biden’s meeting with von der Leyen include Ukraine and the ongoing talks between the EU and the UK over trade arrangements in Northern Ireland. Biden has taken a keen interest in the matter.
“President Biden and I, we share the assessment that it is important for peace and stability on the island of Ireland to keep the withdrawal agreement and to stick with the protocol. This protocol has managed to square the difficult circle that Brexit caused,” she said.