European Union member states agreed Wednesday to toughen sanctions on Belarus for helping Russia's invasion of Ukraine and for Minsk's crackdown on the opposition, officials said.
Spain, which holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said EU ambassadors at a meeting had backed new measures, including adding more Belarus officials to a visa-ban and asset-freeze blacklist.
Multiple European diplomats told AFP the new sanctions mainly looked to curb dual-use equipment that can be used on the battlefield, and stopping aviation parts going to Belarus.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is the closest ally of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and has allowed his country to be used as a staging post for Moscow's assault on Ukraine.
The EU has already imposed repeated rounds of sanctions on Minsk over Lukashenko's brutal repression of the opposition since 2020 and the war in Ukraine.
Those include blacklisting the Belarusian leader and his family members.
EU states have been arguing over bolstering sanctions on Belarus since the start of the year, with the aim of aligning measures with those imposed on Russia.
The move has been held up by a disagreement over calls by some countries to remove fertiliser producers from the blacklist amid worries over global food supplies.
Officials complain that the failure to tighten sanctions on Belarus leaves a major loophole in the EU's measures against Moscow, as sanctioned goods can be diverted to Russia from its neighbour.
A diplomat said the sanctions agreed on Wednesday -- set to be formally adopted in the coming days -- were a "first step" and there could be more discussions on further Belarus listings later this year.