EU Imposes Sanctions on Belarus After Hijacking of Plane with Dissident on Board

By Anna Breuer on 25 May 2021
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Brussels as seen from the Mont des Arts

The European Union pressed ahead late Monday with sanctions against Belarus including calling on all airlines based in the bloc to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace.

The move came one day after that country’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who is sometimes referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” forced Ryanair Flight 4798, en route from Athens to Vilnius, that was flying over Belarus to land in Minsk in order to arrest a dissident journalist using the ruse of a “potential security threat” that did not in fact exist.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the move a “hijacking.”  Gitanas Nauseda, the president of neighboring Lithuania, described Belarus’ actions as “state terrorism.”

During the seven-hour stop in Minsk, the journalist, Roman Protasevich was arrested, the country’s interior ministry said in an official statement that was later deleted from its official Telegram channel. His girlfriend who was traveling with him was also arrested.

The European Council will also begin the process of banning Belarusian airlines from flying over EU airspace or landing in its airports , a move that will effectively block the country’s air connections to Western Europe.

Belarus is not a member of the European Union.

Immediately after the EU announcement, Dutch flag carrier KLM and German flag carrier Lufthansa said they would be halting flights over Belarus.

President Joseph Biden said the United States will look at imposing measures against Belarus as well.

“I welcome the news that the European Union has called for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, and have asked my team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and international organizations,” he said.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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