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U.S. Treasury Imposes Sanctions on Cypriot Companies Linked to Belarusian Defense Industry

The recent actions taken by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to expand its sanctions list by including two Cypriot companies represent a significant escalation in efforts to target entities allegedly involved in supporting the defense industry of the Belarusian government under President Lukashenko. These newly sanctioned companies, based in Paphos, Cyprus, along with their officials, including a Belarusian national, a Syrian national, and a Lebanese national, have come under scrutiny for their purported roles in facilitating arms deals and providing support to the Lukashenko regime.

This development is a continuation of the U.S. government's response to the disputed August 2020 election in Belarus and Lukashenko's alleged backing of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to statements from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the decision to designate these entities and individuals aims to maintain economic pressure on the Lukashenko regime and hold it accountable for its actions.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson stressed the regime's reliance on revenues from state-owned enterprises to fund its activities and evade U.S. sanctions. Nelson emphasized the commitment to leveraging a range of tools to target Belarus' illicit networks and ensure accountability for its alleged complicity in supporting Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Black Shield, reportedly based in Iraq and led by individuals from Lebanon and Syria, is a key entity implicated in the sanctions. Black Shield stands accused of acquiring and selling weapons used in conflicts worldwide, including by the major Belarusian defense company Kidma Tech OJSC. This company has been under sanctions since December 2, 2021. The network associated with Black Shield specializes in trading various weapons and military equipment, encompassing everything from ammunition and small arms to armored vehicles and military helicopters.


The network's operations extend through intermediary and front companies, such as Centuronic Ltd and S. Group Airlines Ltd, both located in Paphos, Cyprus. These companies, along with their officials, have been added to the sanctions list due to their alleged involvement in facilitating arms deals and supporting Black Shield's activities. Among the individuals targeted by the sanctions are Tatyana Protopovich, Samer Rayya, and Mohamad Majd Deiry.

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Julie D. Fisher, highlighted the collaborative efforts between the U.S. and Cyprus in opposing Russia's actions in Ukraine. She underscored the imposition of sanctions on the two Cypriot companies as part of a broader strategy to counter authoritarianism and illegal warfare.

The addition of these companies and individuals to the sanctions list underscores the U.S. government's commitment to disrupting illicit networks and holding those accountable who support destabilizing activities in Belarus and Ukraine.



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