Belarus Faces New EU Sanctions After Hijacked Ryanair Flight

Accused of having rerouted a Ryanair flight, Minsk has seen new sanctions imposed by the European Union, diplomatic sources. The Europeans are also preparing sectoral economic sanctions, which will come on top of the decision of EU countries to ban Belarusian airlines from entering their airspace.

Head winds for Belarus. EU member states have added 78 names and 7 entities to the list of country’s officials sanctioned for repression of the opposition, 7 of whom are involved in the diversion of a Ryanair European airliner, diplomats report to AFP. The agreement was given by the capitals during a meeting of their ambassadors in Brussels. It will be validated on June 21 during the face-to-face Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg and the sanctions will become effective with the publication of the names in the Official Journal of the EU. The Europeans are also preparing sectoral economic sanctions, which will come on top of the decision of EU countries to ban Belarusian airlines from entering their airspace. The measure primarily targets the national company Belavia.

These new sanctions were demanded by European leaders after the decision of the Belarusian authorities to divert to Minsk a plane of the European company Ryanair connecting Athens to Vilnius to arrest two of its passengers, the Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protassevich and his Russian friend Sofia Sapega . Seven people, including several senior regime officials, were held responsible for this rerouting which involved sending a military plane to force the Ryanair flight to reroute and escort it to Minsk.

The sanctions imposed Wednesday on 78 people and 7 entities are individual. They will be banned and their assets in the EU will be seized. It will also be prohibited to grant European funding to the entities concerned. The EU has already sanctioned 88 members of the regime including President Lukashenko and his son.

The economic sanctions under discussion aim to hit the regime in the portfolio. “The Europeans are still reluctant to take economic sanctions, but this time we really have to take measures which Lukashenko feels the weight,” European foreign minister Josep Borrell told the media.

Among the economic sanctions envisaged are the exports of potash, of which Belarus is a large producer, and the pipeline through which part of the gas purchased by the EU from Russia passes “which could arrive by another pipeline,” he said. precise.