On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed in Luxembourg to impose sanctions on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko over the crackdown on protests in his country.

Two diplomatic sources confirmed that the 27 ministers agreed during their meeting to place Lukashenko's name on a list that already includes 40 of his government officials on whom the European Union has imposed sanctions.

The two sources said that "a political agreement was reached to expand the list of sanctions by adding President Lukashenko."

The European Union has included about 40 officials in the Lukashenko regime, including the interior minister, on the sanctions list for their role in rigging elections in August and the violent suppression of protests on 2 October.

But Brussels refrained from punishing Lukashenko himself, hoping to persuade him to engage in dialogue with opposition forces to solve the crisis.

However, the recent crackdown on protests in Minsk on Sunday, which saw police use water cannons and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators, prompted Brussels to change its approach.

On his arrival at the meeting in Luxembourg, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that it was time to expand the sanctions to include the Belarus strongman.

Maas, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Union, said, "Violence continues and is carried out by the Lukashenko regime - the protesters are still being arrested, so we have to consider what we are doing."

He continued, "I suggested issuing a new package of sanctions and that Lukashenko be among those who will be sanctioned."

It is reported that the European Union had rejected the results of the elections that took place on August 9 and said that it did not consider Lukashenko the legitimate president of the country.

After getting the green light from the ministers, the legal body of the union will detail the list of new sanctions before they come into effect.

Source: Agencies

By:Nadeemy Haded

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