EU Extends Its Arms Embargo Against Belarus, Once Again

A European Union (EU) arms embargo against Belarus and sanctions on four Belarusian citizens has been prolonged for another year, the press service of the EU Council reports.

The EU ambassadors agreed to extend the embargo, which has been prolonged annually since its introduction in 2011.

The restrictive measures include an embargo on arms and equipment that could be used for internal repression. In 2017, biathlon and specific-use sporting rifles were excluded from this list.

Besides, four people remain in the EU visa-ban and asset-freeze blacklist. Among them are former Interior Ministers Vladimir Naumov and Yuri Sivakov, former head of the Presidential Administration Viktor Sheiman and former commander of the special forces brigade of the Interior Ministry troops Dmitry Pavlichenko.

Brussels suspect them of being involved in the disappearances of former Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenko, politician Viktor Gonchar, businessman Anatoly Krasovsky and journalist Dmitry Zavadsky in 1999-2000.

This year, Hungary reportedly wanted to link the extension of the embargo with the swift adoption of the Belarus partnership priorities, the document that has been under negotiation for years.

However, under pressure from the other EU member states, Budapest backed down on the demand to formally link the two issues, some sources say.

In 2016, almost all EU sanctions were lifted from Belarus. The arms embargo was imposed by the EU in 2011. Personal sanctions against Naumov, Sheiman, Sivakov and Pavlichenko have been in effect since 2004.