The Belarusian opposition leader called on the United States to enact sanctions on the Belarus government similar to those imposed on Moscow.
In meetings with the US State Department and members of Congress this week, Svyatlana Tsykhanoskaya said she had discussed strengthening future sanctions and closing existing loopholes.
It also said it had provided the US government with evidence of the involvement of strong Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in the Russian war in Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Tsikhanoskaya said the sanctions “should be the same in strength” as those against Russia “but different in structure”, and should target state banks and state-owned companies.
The opposition leader said she had spoken with officials in Washington, DC, about ways to “make sanctions more effective, close remaining loopholes, freeze Lukashenka’s assets, and block the money he (International Monetary Fund) gives him.”
Tsykhanoskaya said he suggested using secondary sanctions to fill in those loopholes.
“We see how Russia is using Belarus to get around its sanctions,” she said, citing the example of steel.
She said the sanctions affect Lukashenko’s regime, citing what she described as letters from the foreign minister requesting rapprochement sent in recent weeks.
“I hope that Lukashenka will not succeed in deceiving democratic countries again, as he has done so many times before,” she said.
Tsikhnoskaya met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman – a meeting attended in part by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken – as well as Jim O’Brien, head of the US State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination.
Tsikhanoskaya told reporters that she gave O’Brien “documents containing evidence of Lukashenka’s involvement in the war against Ukraine, as well as a list of companies and countries that helped circumvent the sanctions.”
This includes “enormous evidence of missile launches from our territory, movement of Russian equipment on the territory of Belarus,” she said.
“It is internal information about some internal orders about the deployment of various Russian military equipment in our territory,” she continued. So people have been collecting this information throughout the war. They are well documented and we have passed this evidence to the government.”
Tsykhanoskaya said she did not believe the Belarusian military was involved in launching these missiles, and instead gave Lukashenko the land for Russian President Vladimir Putin to use as he wanted.
“It is already a world war. We are very afraid of World War III but it is already going on.” “It is a war between democracy and authoritarianism.”