LONDON (Reuters) – Britain announced a new sanctions package against Belarus on Thursday for its role in facilitating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including import bans and new measures aimed at preventing internet propaganda.
Belarus, led by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, is Russia’s staunchest ally among ex-Soviet states and allowed its territory to be used to launch the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Last month Russia moved ahead with a decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.
“This new package ratchets up the economic pressure on Lukashenko and his regime which actively facilitates the Russian war effort and ignores Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.
The new package includes banning the import of gold, cement, wood and rubber from Belarus and blocking exports to Belarus of banknotes and machinery, as well as goods, technologies and materials that could be used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
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Britain said it would also be able to prevent designated Belarusian media companies from “spreading propaganda in the UK” with social media companies and internet service providers restricting access to the websites of sanctioned Belarusian media organisations.
The British government will also take steps to crack down on those circumventing sanctions, including through limiting the funds Belarus is able to raise by further restricting Belarusian access to UK financial markets.
(Reporting by Muvija M and Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)
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