Belarus–United States relations

Belarusian-American relations


United States

Interstate relations between the United States and Belarus began in 1991 upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which Belarus had been a part. However, the relations have turned sour due to accusations by the United States that Belarus has been violating human rights. Belarus, in turn, has accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs.

In 2008 Belarus recalled its ambassador from Washington and insisted that the Ambassador of the United States must leave Minsk.[1]

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, only 20% of Belarusians approve of U.S. leadership, with 30% disapproving and 50% uncertain, the fourth-lowest rating for any surveyed country in Europe.[2]

1991 through 2000

The United States has encouraged Belarus to conclude and adhere to agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the program of macroeconomic stabilization and related reform measures, as well as to undertake increased privatization and to create a favorable climate for business and investment. Although there has been some American direct private investment in Belarus, its development has been relatively slow given the uncertain pace of reform. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement was signed in June 1992 but has been suspended since 1995 because Belarus did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement. Belarus is eligible for Export-Import Bank short-term financing insurance for U.S. investments, but because of the adverse business climate, no projects have been initiated.

2001 through 2004

In early September 2001, the United States condemned Belarus for having irregularities in the recent election, causing Alexander Lukashenko to be re-elected. However, this criticism was short lived, as the United States came under the September 11, 2001 attacks two days later.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, several American intelligence agencies accused Belarus of providing a safe haven for the deposed leader, Saddam Hussein, and his sons, Uday and Qusay. The only evidence that was presented was a cargo flight from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to the Belarusian capital of Minsk, documentation of which was found after the capture of the Baghdad airport in April 2003. While some sources said that Lukashenko was close to Saddam and Saddam had thought about leaving Iraq to go to Belarus, Saddam was found in Iraq in December 2003 and his sons were killed in Iraq a few months earlier.

Belarus-U.S. relations were further strained after Congress unanimously passed the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004, which the Belarusian government believes interferes with Belarusian internal affairs.

2006 to present

Following the 2006 Belarusian presidential election, US introduced sanctions against Belarus individuals and companies for "the actions and policies... to undermine Belarus' democratic processes or institutions, manifested most recently in the fundamentally undemocratic March 2006 elections, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, including detentions and disappearances, and to engage in public corruption including by diverting or misusing Belarusian public assets or by misusing public authority."[3] The assets of said persons and companies in the US are frozen and transactions with them are prohibited.

The sanctions list, as of January 2017, contains the following persons:

The list of the companies sanctioned includes Belshina, Belneftekhim, Polotsk-Steklovolokno, Grodno Azot, Naftan and others.[4]

See also


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