BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union ambassadors on Friday discussed extending sanctions to Russian ally Belarus to crack down on the circumvention of sanctions on Russia by companies routing banned products through its neighbour.
EU diplomats told Reuters the discussions were intended to align sanctions on Belarus closer to those on Russia.
Among the proposals are restrictions on imports from Belarus of oil, coal and gold as well as exports of certain machinery and technology that could be used by the military, officials said.
An EU official said discussions among EU countries would continue, with an agreement likely next week.
The official said the bloc was trying to strike a balance, making clear Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's support for Moscow was unacceptable while trying not inflict too much hardship on the civilian population.
"It's a tightrope act. We're trying to tighten the screws but not too much," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But, the official said, signs that Belarus was being used to get round sanctions on Russia meant the EU had to tighten its measures.
The EU has imposed a range of sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, barring imports of products including sea-borne oil, coal, steel, gold, wood and plastics.
Russian seafood, liquor, cigarettes and cosmetics are also on the list of banned products.
It has also imposed restrictions on Belarus, which the bloc says has allowed Russia to fire missiles from its territory and Russian troops, tanks and aircraft to cross its land.
Those sanctions cover tobacco products, potash, mineral fuels and products made of wood, steel and rubber.
In the financial sector, the measures are similar. There is a prohibition on transactions with Belarus's central bank and on provision of euro-denominated bank notes, limits on financial inflows from Belarus and a ban on providing messaging service SWIFT to five Belarusian banks.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Kate Abnett and Andrew Gray; Editing by William Maclean)