Trade Despite Sanctions?
EU Meeting Today to Discuss Sanctions Against Belarus
EU ministers are meeting today in Brussels to determine whether sanctions against Belarus should be expanded. Latvia is an important part of this, as they import a great deal of Belarusian oil products and have a history of blocking the adoption of EU sanctions against Belarus.
The Netherlands is also a key player. According to Belarus, last year the Netherlands imported 20.3% of Belarusian exports, or $6 billion worth of goods, mainly oil products. Nevertheless, the Dutch do not consider themselves to be a major Belarus importer. They view the Netherlands as simply a “transit country” when it comes to Belarusian oil.
Zakharova explains in this EU Observer Article, “After trans-shipment in Dutch ports, the [Belarusian] dictator's crude becomes clean enough to be sold to the US, which has imposed sanctions on direct oil trade with Lukashenko's henchmen.”
Ultimately, the US ends up buying the same Belarusian oil that it has imposed sanctions against.
Now, Lukashenko is concerned with ensuring that any new EU sanctions will not disturb this current set-up. He’s conveniently freed two political prisoners and relaxed his anti-West rhetoric in time for today’s meeting. The question, as Zakharova puts it, remains “are [the EU diplomats] happy to keep playing dumb, just like the Dutch MPs who say oil transit is not the same as oil imports?”
Source: EU Observer