Europe and the United States joined forces on Monday to impose a new round of sanctions on Belarus in response to the country’s “hijacking” of a passenger plane last month, in addition to imposing travel bans and asset freezes on dozens of Belarusian individuals and companies, and the European Union is preparing to impose economic sanctions on Belarus. Belarusian opposition leader Tikhanovskaya welcomed the strong sanctions, saying they were “unprecedented”.
AFP reports that the EU, the United States, Britain and Canada are acting together to blacklist more officials, members of parliament and ministers from the government of Belarusian President Lukashenko. Belarus deployed an air force plane to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, on May 23 and arrested an opposition journalist. The move by Belarus was described by the West as an “act of state hijacking of a passenger plane.
At a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, representatives of 27 EU countries decided to “cut off the main economic lifeline” of the Lukashenko regime. EU foreign policy chief Borrell said the decision will be submitted to the European Council for approval “as soon as possible” at the EU summit expected to be held Thursday to Friday.
The EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday decided to add 78 Belarusian individuals and eight business entities to the travel ban and asset freeze. Seven of them, including the Belarusian Defense and Transport Minister, were directly involved in the May 23 “hijacking” of the plane. The sanctions announced Monday bring the number of Belarusian members of parliament, officials, judges and military commanders on the EU sanctions list to 166. The additional sanctioned companies are run by Lukashenko’s cronies.
The EU foreign ministers’ meeting also agreed to take action against the “pillar” industries of the Belarusian economy.
We are united in our deep concern over the repeated violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law by the Lukashenko regime,” said a joint statement issued by the EU, the United States, Britain and Canada. We are united in calling on this regime to end the repression of its own people.”
Belarusian opposition leader Tikhanovskaya welcomed the new sanctions from Europe and the United States, calling the strong round “unprecedented.” She said it was a strong signal to President Lukashenka’s regime that the international community will continue to cooperate in the fight against violence and lawlessness that violates human rights. She stressed that sanctions are stronger when (Western countries) are united.
Borel said the round of sanctions would “seriously wound” the Minsk regime.