EU ambassadors coordinate sanctions against Belarusian carriers

EU ambassadors coordinate sanctions against Belarusian carriers

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries have coordinated sanctions against Belarusian carriers over the incident with the landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on May 23, a source from the delegation of a European country to the Council of the European Union said.

"As High Representative [for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep] Borrell insisted, some sanctions can be introduced quickly, by written procedure, it is not necessary to wait for a session of the Council of the EU on June 21. That is why, this morning, the ambassadors already approved restrictions against Belarusian airlines," TASS cited the source as saying.

According to the diplomat, the sanctions will cover a ban on the flight of Belarusian carriers in the airspace of the European Union and the landing of their planes at the airports of EU nations. Besides, EU airlines may be banned from operating flights over Belarus. "Within the day, the official procedure to impose sanctions is expected to be completed," the source said, adding that the sanctions could take effect already on Saturday.

The heads of state and government of the EU countries decided to expand sanctions against Belarus and include new individuals and organizations on the blacklist at the EU summit on May 24-25.

A Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport on May 23 after a reported bomb threat. The plane landed safely, and no bomb was found on board. Roman Protasevich, one of the co-founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which was recognized as extremist in Belarus, was among the passengers. Protasevich, currently living in Lithuania and wanted in Belarus, was detained after the airliner had landed in the Belarusian capital. The plane left Minsk and continued on to Vilnius late on Sunday.