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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Slams U.S. Sanctions

MINSK -- Belarus said Wednesday it was considering retaliatory moves against the United States in response to financial sanctions on oil processor Belneftekhim.

The Bush administration on Tuesday prohibited Americans doing business with the refining and petrochemical firm and froze any assets it has under U.S. jurisdiction. International banks often follow U.S. banks in such bans.

"We appeal to the United States to refrain from the practice of trying to intimidate our country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andri Popov told a news conference. "Should there be unfriendly actions by the United States, Belarus will be obliged to react in appropriate fashion."

Belneftekhim, the Belarussian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry, has a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Belneftekhim USA, and is made up of more than 50 petroleum and petrochemical businesses.

Belarus depends almost solely on Russia for the crude oil it refines. Beleneftekhim controls two refineries in Belarus as well as a potash plant and provides one-fifth of all Belarus' foreign currency earnings.

The United States and European Union accuse President Alexander Lukashenko of hounding and jailing opponents, muzzling the media and rigging polls, including his re-election to a third term last year.

Since that election and the four days of large protests it sparked, Lukashenko and dozens of officials have been barred entry to both the United States and the 27-nation EU.

The United States has little investment in Belarus and it was not clear what form any retaliation might take.