(Bloomberg) — Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko has faced more than a year of condemnation from the West for his post-election crackdown at home, including sanctions from Europe. For all of that, trade is booming.
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Exports to the European Union have almost doubled, rescuing the economy from recession and helping keep Lukashenko afloat. The bloc in June targeted petroleum products and potash, a substance mostly used in fertilizer and which Belarus produces in abundance, but stopped short of a full ban.
Lukashenko is now upping the ante with Europe, threatening to block the transit of natural gas supplies from Russia to Poland and beyond. He’s deployed migrants from the Middle East as a political weapon, ferrying them to his western borders and creating havoc with neighbors like Poland and Lithuania.
The EU is weighing further penalties as a result, but those are unlikely to include hefty restrictions on…