Belarus sanctions itself by halting Lithuanian imports – formin

  • 2024-03-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Belarus has imposed sanctions on its people by banning a range of imports from Lithuania, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Friday. 

"They've imposed sanctions on themselves. I couldn't call it anything else," Landsbergis told BNS. "It's the sanctioning of their own people." 

"They've decided to block the products they probably need the most. Actually, the quantities of Lithuanian-made products imported from Lithuania aren't very large, but prices will still rise for them and there'll be even fewer of these products," he said.

According to the minister, Minsk's move will force the remaining Lithuanian exporters to Belarus to look for other markets. 

"For our economy, it's a measure, albeit small, that encourages diversification. In other words, we'll divert even the small groups of goods that used to reach Belarus elsewhere," he told BNS. 

Zygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Minsk's move would also affect the Russian market, because Belarus was often used as a conduit to get round EU sanctions against Russia. 

"Belarus was a route through which Russia bypassed sanctions. We ourselves have repeatedly raised the need to tighten sanctions against Belarus to prevent Russia from circumventing the sanctions," the MP said. 

"But what is Belarus aiming to achieve by trying to isolate itself? I think it's to divide the West so that they don't take decisions that could be even more painful for it," he said.

Belarus said on Thursday it was halting a range of imports from Lithuania in retaliation for its neighbor closing two more border checkpoints.

Citing security concerns, Lithuania closed the Lavoriskes and Raigardas checkpoints on the border with Belarus in early March, following the closure of the Sumskas and Tverecius crossings last summer.

Only two of Lithuania's six border checkpoints with Belarus remain open – at Medininkai and Salcininkai. 

Belarus said that the new import ban applied to various items including food and alcohol, clothing, household appliances, car parts and construction equipment.