Status: 05/29/2021 4:00 p.m.
The United States is planning sanctions against Belarus in response to a forced landing of a passenger plane. This includes actions against nine state-owned companies and Lukashenko’s “key figures in the regime.”
The U.S. government will re-impose sanctions on nine state-owned Belarusian companies next week after a passenger plane was forced to land in Minsk and government commentator Roman Protashevich was arrested. In addition, US President Joe Biden’s spokesman Zhen Zaki said that in consultation with the European Union and other allies, targeted sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko ‘”key figures in the regime” were being prepared.
US Travel Warning
In addition, Zaki said a new legal instrument was being developed to pave the way for the president to impose more fines. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a travel warning to Belarus. The FAA has warned airlines to be “extremely cautious” when flying over Belarus.
Zaki said the United States was calling on Lukashenko to allow a credible international investigation into the incident involving the Ryanair plane. In addition, Zaki said all political prisoners should be released and a serious dialogue with the opposition should be initiated, which would lead to fair and free presidential elections under international surveillance.
Sanctions from the European Union
Belarus has demanded that a passenger flight from Athens to Vilnius be grounded in Minsk on Sunday, citing a bomb threat. Subsequently, the journalist and government critic Protashevich and his accomplice Sofia Sabeka, who were sitting in the machine, were arrested. Protestantism was deported, including to Lithuania.
In response, EU heads of state and government already agreed on additional sanctions against Belarus at a summit on Monday. These include blocking European airspace for flights from Belarus, as well as sanctions against those responsible for the incident. It should now be implemented in the coming weeks.
Brutal repression of the democratic movement
Tensions between Minsk and the West have already deepened since the presidential election in Belarus last August, which was overshadowed by massive fraud allegations. After the presidential election, mass demonstrations took place in Belarus, which was brutally suppressed by Lukashenko.