News ID: 97300
Publish Date : 03 December 2021 - 21:32

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union imposed sanctions on state-owned Belarusian airline Belavia on Thursday, accusing the company of flying in migrants as a tactic to destabilize European states, in a new round of punitive measures coordinated with the United States.
Reuters reported the planned sanctions on Nov. 10 and they were approved last month. They came into effect on Thursday after publication in the EU’s official journal. Britain and Canada also imposed new sanctions on Belarus on Thursday.
EU governments blacklisted 17 individuals and 11 entities, targeting judges and top Belarusian officials. Those sanctions are in the form of asset freezes and travel bans.
The sanctions on Belavia mean EU companies can no longer lease planes to the Belarusian airline, EU officials have said. It was not immediately clear if Belavia would have to return the 17 aircraft leased through aircraft companies in Ireland.
The decision takes the total number of Belarusian individuals under EU sanctions to 183, along with 26 entities.
The European Union accuses Belarus of flying in migrants, mainly from the Middle East, and pushing them to illegally cross the border with Poland in a “hybrid attack” on the bloc.
Belarus denies fuelling the crisis. Belavia has denied any wrongdoing.
The EU also targeted hotels and travel agents such as Oskartour which have been accused of using their contacts with airlines to help lure in migrants to Belarus.
Belavia, which was already barred from flying over the European Union after the grounding of a plane earlier this year, flies to destinations such as Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

‘Belarus to Retaliate
Against Sanctions’

Belarus said it would retaliate after the United States and its allies imposed sanctions against dozens of individuals and entities there, and it complained that its economy was facing unprecedented external pressure.
The new sanctions aim to pile pressure on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused by Western governments of rigging a presidential election, ordering a massive crackdown on the opposition and pushing Middle East migrants towards the border with Poland. He denies the accusations.
“We have repeatedly said that all unfriendly anti-Belarusian steps will be followed by appropriate measures of response. The new round of sanctions is no exception,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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