The EU bans flights over Belarus and will ban its airline after the Ryanair hijacking

European leaders pledge to prepare new economic sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.

The EU imposes new sanctions against the Alexander Lukashenko following the hijacking of a Ryanair plane to arrest the dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega. At the extraordinary face-to-face summit that began this Monday in Brussels, the heads of State and Government of the 27 have agreed ban flights of European companies over Belarusian airspace and prevent Belarusian airlines such as Belavia from landing in the EU.

The act of “state piracy“unprecedented perpetrated by Lukashenko It has caused a stir among European leaders. Belarusian President orchestrated crash landing of a plane in Minsk traveling between two European capitals (Athens and Vilnius) with more than 100 passengers on board in order to detain Pratasevich. A “kidnapping” for which he used a false bomb threat and a military fighter.

What happened yesterday is an international scandal“, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, upon arrival at the summit. “The lives of European civilians have been put at risk. It is a threat to international security and a threat to civil aviation that requires a firm response, “he assures.

For her part, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced that the aid plan worth 3,000 million euros that the EU has prepared for Belarus will stay “frozen“until the country makes a transition to democracy.

European leaders have demanded the immediate release of Pratasevich and Sapega and have demanded an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization on this incident to “determine any breach of international aviation regulations.”

The Heads of State and Government also ask Von der Leyen to prepare “selective economic sanctions“against Belarus and present them without delay concrete proposals to this end.

Finally, European leaders announce that they will apply the list of Belarusian leaders who are prohibited from entering the Union and whose bank accounts have been frozen in Community territory. But in this chapter, the room for maneuver is much narrower: this “black list” already includes 88 people and 7 entities from Belarus.

Among them are the president himself Lukashenko and your son and national security advisor, Viktor Lukashenko, as well as other key figures of the political power and the State administration, high-level members of the judicial system and several prominent economic agents.

Before the start of the summit, the head of community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has summoned the Ambassador of Belarus in Brussels, Aleksandr Mikhnevich, to convey the “firm condemnation” of the EU to the hijacking of the Ryanair plane and demand the Pratasevich’s “immediate release”. Other European capitals have taken similar initiatives.

“By carrying out this coercive act, Belarusian authorities have endangered the safety of passengers and crew“Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the 27 member states.” It is another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all voices of the opposition, “underlines the High Representative for Foreign Policy.

The Belarusian Ministry of Transport denies all the accusations and assures that it received a threat against the Ryanair flight from the Palestinian organization Hamas, included in the EU list of terrorist organizations, as reported by the AFP agency.

A version that nobody in the EU believes. “It is an amazing and scandalous case, it is an act of state piracy that cannot go unpunished“, argues the French Secretary of State for the EU, Clément Beaune.