Context:

Western powers prepared to pile sanctions on Belarus and cut off its aviation links after it scrambled a warplane to intercept an aircraft and arrest a dissident journalist, an act which one leader denounced as ‘state piracy’.

The European Union (EU) imposed sanctions against Belarus, including banning its airlines from using the airspace and airports of the 27-nation bloc EU.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important Developments in Foreign Countries), GS-I: Geography (Maps)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Belarus
  2. The Story behind the sanctions on Belarus

About Belarus

  • Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.
  • Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus.
  • Belarus declared independence in 1991 and in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko was elected as Belarus’s first president in the country’s first and only free election post-independence, serving as president ever since.
  • Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy, and his government is widely considered to be authoritarian.
  • Belarus is a developing country ranking very high in the Human Development Index.
  • It has been a member of the United Nations since its founding and a member of the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • It has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the Union, and likewise participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative.
Belarus | History, Flag, Map, Population, Capital, Language, & Facts |  Britannica

The Story behind the sanctions on Belarus

  • The President of Belarus Lukashenko took office in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and he has been in power for 26 years, keeping much of the economy in state hands, and using censorship and police crackdowns against opponents. He is often described as Europe’s “last dictator”, he has tried to preserve elements of Soviet communism.
  • In 2020, after Lukashenko was announced as the winner in elections, protests broke out in the capital, Minsk which was met with a violent security crackdown, in response to which the EU and the United States (US) imposed several rounds of financial sanctions against Belarus in 2020.
  • In May 2021, Belarus forcibly diverted a passenger jet and scrambled a warplane to arrest an opposition journalist in an act denounced by Western powers as “state piracy” (an act of piracy where the state is involved).

-Source: The Hindu

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