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Lukashenko orders countermeasures to fresh EU sanctions

Lukashenko orders countermeasures to fresh EU sanctions

dpa
Moscow
In response to fresh sanctions imposed by the EU and others, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the preparation of countermeasures.
The Belarusian government should deal with the issue “fundamentally, without dalliance and clearly,” Lukashenko said on Friday at a meeting on the country’s economic development, according to the state news agency Belta.
This is not the first time Belarus has been under pressure from sanctions and it has already set up a crisis team, he said.
The EU had put new sanctions in place on Thursday evening, officially targeting those involved in the smuggling of migrants. They affect, among others, the Belarusian state airline Belavia.
Brussels accuses Belarus of deliberately bringing people from crisis areas into the country and then pushing them to the borders with EU member states Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Thousands of people have been waiting there for weeks, hoping to continue their journey to Europe.
The United States, Canada and Britain also decided on new punitive measures on Thursday.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry immediately announced that it would take “tough, asymmetrical, but appropriate measures” against Europe in return. The EU had already imposed sanctions in the past because of the controversial Belarusian presidential election last year.
On Friday, the German government called on Belarus to grant international aid organizations access to refugees on the Polish border.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin that acting Chancellor Angela Merkel had underlined the need for humanitarian aid in two telephone calls with Lukashenko.
“And we expect the Belarusian side to take appropriate action,” Seibert said.
Thousands of refugees are staying in the border area in sometimes freezing conditions. The German Interior Ministry has said it has no reliable information on how many migrants have died there due to cold or violence.

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