EU Poised To Hit Belarus With Initial Sanctions This Week

EU Poised To Hit Belarus With Initial Sanctions This Week

access_time2021-06-11 10:34:49

The European Union is set to roll out a first round of restrictions on Belarus this week over the forced landing of a Ryanair flight between two of the bloc’s capitals and the arrest of a journalist, according to three diplomats familiar with the matter.

Europe’s fury was triggered after an airliner traveling from Athens to Vilnius was diverted last month under the escort of a Mig-29 fighter jet to the Belarusian capital. Police there arrested Raman Pratasevich, who had reported on the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s discredited declaration of victory in last year’s election.

As an initial step, EU diplomats are expected to sign off Friday on banning Belarusian carriers from flying over European airspace, as well as landing and taking off from the bloc’s airports, two of the people told Bloomberg. If approved, the measures would come into force as early as midnight that same evening, one of them said.

Early next week the EU will discuss proposals to sanction at least seven individuals and one entity, said two diplomats. The list currently under discussion includes ministers, persons in the Belarusian Air Force and other aviation-related people and entities, according to one of the diplomats. The proposed list has yet to be approved, said another diplomat.

All three diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

The European Union is set to roll out a first round of restrictions on Belarus this week over the forced landing of a Ryanair flight between two of the bloc’s capitals and the arrest of a journalist, according to three diplomats familiar with the matter.

Europe’s fury was triggered after an airliner traveling from Athens to Vilnius was diverted last month under the escort of a Mig-29 fighter jet to the Belarusian capital. Police there arrested Raman Pratasevich, who had reported on the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s discredited declaration of victory in last year’s election.


As an initial step, EU diplomats are expected to sign off Friday on banning Belarusian carriers from flying over European airspace, as well as landing and taking off from the bloc’s airports, two of the people told Bloomberg. If approved, the measures would come into force as early as midnight that same evening, one of them said.

Early next week the EU will discuss proposals to sanction at least seven individuals and one entity, said two diplomats. The list currently under discussion includes ministers, persons in the Belarusian Air Force and other aviation-related people and entities, according to one of the diplomats. The proposed list has yet to be approved, said another diplomat.

All three diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

The EU has already sanctioned  seven Belarusian entities and 88 individuals, including the nation’s disputed Lukashenko. The bloc was already working on adding more people to that list over their support for his government and its crackdown on protests against his declaration of victory in last year’s elections. These new additions would be on top of those plans.

Meanwhile, technical work continues on further measures, following an agreement in May between EU leaders to adopt “targeted economic sanctions.” The exact sectors to be affected have yet to be defined but are likely to include areas, such as potash, where state enterprises are most active, an EU official told Bloomberg last month. The official said the aim was to have the economic sanctions ready by summer.

Potash, a soil nutrient used to improve crops, is Belarus’s major export -- also supplying a large share of European demand -- and the country’s only abundant mineral resource.

The timing of the measures will depend on the EU’s 27 governments ability to agree and will need to name specific sectors and be clearly defined to withstand potential legal proceedings and win the backing of all member states.

Bloomberg

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