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Belarus blasts West over fresh sanctions, vows retaliation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows the Belarusian foreign ministry's building.

The Belarusian foreign ministry blasts the West for bringing the country under fresh sanctions after accusing Minsk of stoking a migrant crisis.

The condemnation came after the United States, Canada, and their allies in the European Union widened the restrictive economic measures, targeting more Belarusian officials and businesses, AFP reported on Thursday. Taking the measures, the allies claimed that the country was hijacking the crisis for "political reasons."

"The depth of the absurdity of the EU's decision on the latest sanctions against sovereign Belarus and its very content is by now difficult to comprehend," the ministry said in a statement.

It also condemned the West of "demonizing" Belarus and vowed "tough" retaliatory measures.

About 2,000 people camped out last month on the Belarus-Poland border in freezing conditions before the makeshift camp was cleared out by border guards and the migrants were moved to a logistics center.

"The burden of responsibility is placed on Belarus while blatantly ignoring the true causes of the global migration crisis," the ministry said.

The statement was apparently referring to the West's adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa that has left thousands of people with no choice other than to try to flee their homelands in the hope of finding refuge elsewhere.

The sanctions have targeted senior Belarusian security and justice officials, prominent media figures, defense-related firms, and a major fertilizer exporter. Also targeted were state airline Belavia, tour operators, and hotels.

It was the fifth round of coordinated Belarus sanctions, which freeze assets and impose travel and business restrictions on those targeted.

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