Australia sanctions Belarus president and family members

Belarus has supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Sravasti Dasgupta
Friday 25 March 2022 14:09
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Related: International Tennis Federation Cancels Events In Russia And Belarus

Australia has imposed sanctions against Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, members of his family, and 22 Russians in its latest action condemning the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Marise Payne, the minister for foreign affairs, said the sanctions had been imposed on Russian “propagandists and disinformation operatives” including senior editors from organisations such as Russia Today, the Strategic Culture Foundation, InfoRos and NewsFront.

Belarus, the authoritarian state lying to the north of Ukraine, has supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Russia’s western neighbour. Mr Lukashenko’s nation has already been sanctioned by the UK, US and EU.

The Australian government has now sanctioned a total of 32 pro-Kremlin propagandists “reflecting the strategic importance of disinformation in Russia’s attempts to legitimise Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine”, she said in a statement on Friday.

Australia imposed sanctions on the president of Belarus and his family members for their continuous “strategic support to Russia and its military forces in their assault on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, the statement added.

Sanctions have also been placed on the president’s wife Galina Lukashenko and their son Viktor Lukashenko, who previously held senior national security roles in the Belarusian government.

These sanctions are in addition to sanctions previously imposed on 13 Belarusian individuals and entities, including minister of defence Viktor Khrenin, who the Australian government said has played a role of significant strategic importance to Russia by allowing Russia to launch attacks from Belarus.

“The Australian government reiterates our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for the people of Ukraine,” the statement said.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Australia may impose further sanctions if Belarus continues to support Russian actions in Ukraine. “We again call upon Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine,” Ms Payne said.

The country’s athletes have also been booted out of the upcoming Paralympic Games in China, and the US State Department has shuttered its embassy in Minsk in opposition to Belarusian military collaboration with Moscow.

On Sunday, Mr Lukashenko warned Western countries and said: “If you transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions.”

As the war entered the second month on Friday, the United Nations pegged civilian casualties in Ukraine at 1,035. The UN human rights office said at least 90 children were among those killed and 1,650 sustained injuries in the past month of the war, but the real figure is expected to be much higher.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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