The European Union is set to ban new loans to Belarus after reaching a deal on Friday for economic sanctions on Belarus as punishment for forcing down a flight to arrest a journalist Roman Protasevich. It is reported by Reuters.
Broad economic sanctions would be the EU's strongest response yet to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in May by Belarusian authorities, a move the bloc's leaders have called state piracy.
Restrictions on the Belarusian financial sector, if agreed by EU governments at a political level, will include: a ban on new loans, a ban on EU investors from trading securities or buying short-term bonds and a ban on EU banks from providing investment services. EU export credits will also end.
EU experts tasked with drawing up sanctions agreed on a ban of exports from the bloc of any communications equipment that could be used for spying, and a tighter arms embargo to include hunting rifles.
They also agreed restrictions on EU purchases from Belarus of tobacco products, as well as oil and oil-related products, and a ban on importing potash, a major Belarusian export.
As it was reported, on May 23, the founder of the largest opposition telegram channel of Belarus NEXTA, journalist Roman Protasevich, was detained in Minsk. The plane with Roman Protasevich on board flew from Athens to Vilnius. Suddenly, the plane gave a distress signal, changed course, and made an emergency landing at the Minsk National Airport. The emergency landing was caused by a mining signal.
The EU stated that the plane of Ryanair Company was forced to land at Minsk Airport due to the actions of the Belarusian military aircraft. CEO of Ryanair Michael O'Leary stated that the forcible landing of Athens-Vilnius flight in Belarus was highjacking backed by the state.
Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen threatened with sanctions the Belarusian officials responsible for the incident with the plane.
The U.S. and a number of the EU countries demand to stop the flights over Belarus, including the flights to the country itself.
Ukraine also closed its airspace for Belarusian planes on May 29.