On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko due to his regime's continued resistance to the bloc's attempt to change power in the republic.
Two diplomatic sources said that at a meeting of 27 ministers in Luxembourg, it was agreed that Lukashenka's name should be included in the list of 40 of his officials already under EU sanctions.
The Belarusian authorities are accused of rigging elections in August, which allowed Lukashenko to become president again, and of brutally suppressing mass protests that shook the country after the vote.
The EU refrained from punishing Lukashenka himself, hoping to persuade him to enter into dialogue with opposition forces to resolve the crisis.
But a renewed crackdown on protests in Minsk on Sunday, in which police used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse a protest in Minsk and carry out hundreds of arrests, prompted a change.
Arriving for a meeting in Luxembourg, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was time to expand the sanctions list to include the leader of Belarus.
“The violence perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime continues - there are still arrests of peaceful demonstrators, so we must think about how to proceed,” said Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency.
“I suggested that we install a new package of sanctions. And Lukashenka should be among the people who will then be subject to sanctions. ”
The EU rejected the results of the elections in Belarus on August 9 and stated that it does not consider Lukashenko to be the legitimate president.