Today, Monday, European Union leaders agreed to impose new sanctions on Belarus, especially economic ones. The Europeans also called on their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace. The day before, a Ryanair plane was diverted towards Minsk by the intelligence services of Alexander Lukashenko, who arrested an opponent on board.
On the evening of Monday, May 24, the European Union decided to close its airspace to Belarusian planes to punish the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, accused of redirecting a European airliner to capture opponents, according to a council spokesman.
The 27 member states that met at the summit in Brussels called on their airlines to avoid flying over Belarus and demanded the “immediate release” of opponent Roman Protasevic and his companion, according to the summit results posted on the Internet by the spokesman. The Europeans demanded an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) into the emergency landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk.
London and Kiev were already blacklisted in the airspace of this former Soviet republic, and airlines Lufthansa, KLM, SAS and AirBaltic announced their decision to avoid overflights.
Regarding economic sanctions against Belarus, the European Union also calls for “expanding the list of officials and entities as quickly as possible” in the country targeted by European sanctions. Already about 88 people, including Alexander Lukashenko, and seven entities have been punished by EU travel bans and asset freezes to suppress dissent and the August 9, 2020 presidential elections, which Europeans deemed “rigged”.
It also calls on the 27 countries to “adopt other targeted economic sanctions,” and called on the Foreign Minister of the European Union, Josep Borrell, and the European Commission to “submit proposals for this purpose without delay.”
The European Union also expressed its “solidarity” with Latvia after the “unjustified expulsion” of its diplomats from Minsk. On Monday, Belarus ordered the expulsion of the Latvian ambassador and all embassy staff in Minsk, accusing the Latvian authorities of replacing the Belarusian flag with the opposition flag on the sidelines of the World Hockey Championships. In response, Riga announced the expulsion of Belarusian diplomats.
European Council President Charles Michel declared that the European reaction “relates to the seriousness of” outrageous and totally unacceptable “events. He warned that “we will not tolerate any attempt to play Russian roulette with the lives of innocent civilians.”
With the support of Joe Biden
The US president joined the European condemnation on Monday evening. “The United States strongly condemns the rerouting of the plane and the arrest,” the Democratic president said in a statement. Joe Biden continued, “This scandalous event and the video that Mr. Protasevic appears to have filmed under duress is a shameful attack on political opposition and freedom of the press.”
“I join the many calls for an international investigation to establish the facts. I welcome the news that the European Union has called for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, and I have asked my team to consider appropriate options to hold those responsible accountable. In close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and international organizations. “.
With Agence France-Presse