Ministry denies Belarus goods transiting through Estonia breach sanctions

Operail train at a crossing.
Operail train at a crossing. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Companies brokering or transiting goods from Belarus to the foreign market through Estonia do not violate sanctions imposed on the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

Kristina Ots, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, told ERR: "Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no reason to believe that an Estonian state-owned company or the authorities have violated the existing sanctions. Of course, If the restrictions are specified or changed, compliance with them must be reassessed."

Estonia applies sanctions adopted by the United Nations, EU and Estonian state. These have been applied to individuals and entities in areas such as finance.

On Tuesday, newspaper Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported products that fund the Belarusian regime, such as oil, can still transit through Estonia and reach ports for export.

Ots said compliance of these exports has been checked by the Latvian Customs, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board and the train companies against the sanctions in place.

She said the Estonian authorities are ready to apply additional sanctions if the current restrictions are amended.

"Discussions are taking place in the European Union so that Europe would establish, enforce and apply sanctions uniformly," Ots said.

During an interview with EPL in Brussels on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said transit is in line with sanctions.

Belarus has had oil refineries since Soviet times which use raw materials from Russia. Refining the products creates income for the Belarusian regime when exported.

The EU and U.S.A have imposed several rounds of sanctions on the Belarusian regime after a crackdown on the political opposition after the presidential election in 2020, the forced landing of a RyanAir plane and a "hybrid attack" using migrants on Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. The most recent round came into effect at the start of December.

In November, ERR News reported the amount of Belarusian goods imported to Estonia had risen to a record high in 2021.

Lithuania's government was caught up in a scandal this week related to Belarusian exports, public broadcaster LRT reported.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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