On Thursday, the European Union put sanctions on Belarus’ economy in response to Minsk’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight last month in order to arrest a journalist on board, which Western officials described as “state piracy.”
The additional penalties, which come after overflight bans on Belarusian planes, include prohibitions on EU corporations importing commodities or doing business with Belarusian companies in industries such as banking, petroleum products, and potash.
The EU “introduced new restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime,” EU governments said in a joint statement. The sanctions were first agreed last Friday by national envoys to the EU and will now be published in full in the bloc’s official journal.
EU leaders were outraged by the interception of the Ryanair plane flying between Athens and Vilnius on May 23. With President Alexander Lukashenko so far impervious to foreign pressure over disputed elections last August, the EU said it wanted to dramatically escalate pressure on the country.
The EU said the new targeted economic sanctions include a ban on “directly or indirectly selling, supplying, transferring, or exporting to anyone in Belarus equipment, technology, or software intended primarily for use in the monitoring or interception of internet and telephone communications, as well as dual-use goods and technologies for military use, and to specified persons, entities, or bodies in Belarus.”
Petroleum goods, fertilizer potash, and cigarette products are all forbidden. Access to EU capital markets has been restricted, as has the provision of insurance and reinsurance to the Belarusian government and other Belarusian public entities and agencies.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has decided to suspend lending to the country.