The Council had an exchange of views on Belarus and adopted conclusions, in which it restated the united EU support for the country's sovereignty and independence, and for the democratic freedoms and rights of Belarusian citizens.
Ministers confirmed that Alexander Lukashenko lacks any democratic legitimacy, and gave their political green light to start the preparation of a next sanctions package, including against Lukashenko and other high-ranking officials.
Ministers also agreed on a concrete package of measures that the EU is ready to offer in support of a new democratic Belarus, and the civil society.
The Council had a discussion on EU relations with Russia, during which it reaffirmed the continued relevance of the five guiding principles unanimously agreed in March 2016, and the willingness to strengthen them. In this context ministers underlined that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains a key condition for any substantial change in the EU-Russia relations.
The Council stressed the need to step up support for the Russian civil society, human rights defenders, and to continue foster building bridges between the peoples.
There was also a political agreement to take forward the initiative to propose restrictive measures against those linked to this assassination attempt of Alexei Navalny.