U.S. Authorizes Broader Sanctions on Belarus, Targeting Government and Key Economic Sectors

Today, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) authorizing the imposition of additional sanctions on the Government of Belarus and a number of key sectors of the Belarusian economy in coordination with the United Kingdom and Canada, which also expanded sanctions on Belarus. The E.O. authorizes the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to impose sanctions on parties that are a part of the Government of Belarus,” any entities owned or controlled by the government, and entities operating in the security, energy, potassium chloride (potash), tobacco, construction, or transportation sectors of the Belarusian economy, among others.

Pursuant to the new E.O. and existing authorities, OFAC added 23 individuals and 21 entities to its List of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN List) today, broadly prohibiting U.S. persons from conducting business with the newly sanctioned parties and freezing any sanctioned party property subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Among others, OFAC targeted Belarusian oligarchs Mikalai Varabei and Aliaksey Aleksin and the Serbia-based Karic family and their holdings in Belarus. Companies associated with these parties include significant players in the Belarusian energy, cargo, and tobacco industries. OFAC also designated Belaruskali OAO, a major producer of potash, Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman, and several directors of other previously sanctioned state-owned enterprise. Limited transactions necessary to wind down existing business with Belaruskali OAO are authorized until December 8, 2021, pursuant to a general license issued by OFAC. Today’s action also includes sanctions on individuals and entities involved in human rights abuses, the suppression of peaceful protestors, and the diversion of Ryanair flight 4978.

Companies doing business in Belarus should closely review these developments and any dealings with the newly sanctioned parties or any entities majority owned by the new SDNs, which may now be prohibited. Further sanctions targeting state-owned enterprises, the Belarusian government, and the other sectors identified in today’s E.O. are possible.