FT: Baltics' trade with Belarus contradicts sanctions stance

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

The Financial Times (FT) reported on Monday that record levels of trade with Belarus undermine Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's political stance against leader Alexander Lukashenko.

In the first 10 months of last year, Estonia's imports from Belarus were more than double 2020's total. Lithuania's imports increased by 50 percent and Latvia's are up two-thirds compared with 2020.

Tomas Jermalavicius, head of studies at Tallinn's International Centre for Defense and Security (ICDS), told the FT the Baltics "should not waste their precious political capital and credibility [...] for the sake of a few hundred million euros".

The full article can be read here.

Commenting on the article on social media, chairman of the Rigiikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson (Reform) wrote the issue will be discussed next week by the group.

In December, Estonian newspaper Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported products that fund the Belarusian regime, such as oil, can still transit through Latvia and Estonia and reach ports for export despite sanctions on the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) have said transit is in line with sanctions and all goods are checked for compliance.

ERR News previously reported the number of Belarusian goods imported to Estonia had risen to a record high in 2021. This includes the transit of goods by Estonian state-owned companies.

Lithuania's government almost collapsed last month after being caught up in a scandal related to Belarusian exports.

Latvia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the rules must be followed, writing in a statement: "That non-compliance with sanctions undermines the international reputation and national economy of the country, as well."

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have all taken strong stances against Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko after presidential elections in 2020, widely regarded to be rigged, refusing to recognize him as leader and calling for sanctions after a violent crackdown on the political opposition and peaceful protestors.

Approximately 1,000 people have since been jailed by the regime.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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