Harsh words are about all that is left to Europe’s last Soviet-style dictatorship if it seeks to retaliate for a new round of economic sanctions imposed by the United States against Belarus.

Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich told reporters in Moscow (August 15) that the country will simply rely on support from Russia and Kazakhstan to overcome the consequences of the sanctions.

The US State Department announced the sanctions on August 11, saying the intent behind them is “to respond to the continued incarceration of political prisoners and crackdown(s) on political activists, journalists and civil society representatives.”

Ironically, on the same day President Alexander Lukashenkjo announced the pardon of nine of 41 participants involved in the mass protests of December 19th although no names were given.  Lukashenko was declared the winner in the 2010 Presidential election which was widely criticized by international observers.

The new sanctions prohibit US citizens from doing business with four firms owned or controlled by a company linked to Lushenko: the Belshina tire factory; Grodno Azot, which manufactures fertilizer; Grodno Khimvolokno, a fiber manufacturer; and Naftan, a major oil refinery. The sanctions are in addition to a travel ban imposed in January on Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials.

“The US actions are not directed at the people of Belarus,” said the State Department press release which also called on Washington’s European partners to “take measures to hold accountable those responsible for the repression of fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

The European Union introduced economic sanctions against Belarus earlier this year but many considered them not harsh enough due to Europe’s dependence on oil and gas transiting Belarus.

Belarus suffered a wave of repression after the protests of 19 December 2010. Around 700 people were detained and beaten up with more than 30 still behind bars, facing sentences of 2 to 6 years.