U.S. Sanctions Against Belarus
Belarus and its President, Aleksandr Lukashenko, have played a crucial supporting role in Russia’s attack against Ukraine. With the consent of Lukashenko, thousands of Russian troops lined the Belarus-Ukraine border ready for invasion and were eventually allowed passage into Ukraine by Belarusian border guards. According to reports, Belarus’s air defense, traffic control systems and fueling stations were made available to Russia in connection with the invasion. On February 24, Russian troops used Belarus, again with the permission of Lukashenko, to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where they reportedly seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
In response, OFAC upped its existing Belarus sanctions program by naming an additional 24 Belarusian individuals and entities, primarily operating in the country’s defense and financial services sectors, as Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”). Among the newly sanctioned entities are the Belarussian Bank of Development and Reconstruction Belinvestbank Joint Stock Company, the fourth largest financial institution in Belarus (“Belinvestbank”), and Bank Dabrabyt Joint Stock Company, the eleventh largest financial institution in Belarus. Both banks are said to be owned or controlled by the government of Belarus. CJSC Belbizneslizing, a financial leasing company that is owned or controlled by Belinvestbank, was also sanctioned by OFAC. Among the many defense firms added to OFAC’s SDN List last week is the JSC 558 Aircraft Repair Plant which, according to OFAC, maintains and repairs aircraft equipment and cooperates with customers in more than 50 countries across the world.
The new actions taken by OFAC with respect to Belarus are list-based and, although the designations reach deep into the Belarusian defense and financial sectors, they do not technically constitute a comprehensive embargo against the country.
 The existing Belarus program is based upon the Belarus Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 548; Executive Order 14038, signed by President Biden on August 9, 2021; and Executive Order 13405, signed by President George W. Bush on June 16, 2006.