EU threatens fresh sanctions against Belarus after warning of military buildup

The European Union is threatening new economic sanctions against Belarus, after Western countries warned that the country was providing new arms and training to its ally, Russia.

The bloc expanded sanctions Monday against a group of government officials suspected of stealing and smuggling luxury goods for high-ranking officials. The sanctions were originally imposed in July. Also targeted were 14 of their relatives and business associates who committed what the EU deemed “politically motivated and crude violence against protestors in 2017.”

Two weeks ago, the bloc announced further sanctions against Belarus because it failed to ease political repression and resolve longstanding tensions between Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and the country’s opposition. Belarussian officials have denied any involvement with the spate of violence that swept across the country in June 2017 after protesters took to the streets.

On Monday, the EU also announced that it had sanctioned Lukashenko’s daughter Marina, along with 16 senior officers from the Russian and Belarusian armed forces, in response to a recent military exercise that was seen as a show of strength by Belarus’ ally in Moscow. The new sanctions freeze assets and bar EU citizens from doing business with the suspects.

Meanwhile, NATO is stepping up its concerns about Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s border, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned was hindering peace efforts in Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, the alliance’s annual report, to be released Tuesday, found that Russian military activity in the region has reached “unprecedented levels,” which it said “weakened the trust-based relationship between Russia and NATO and seriously diminished the security of the Western alliance.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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