The US has proceeded to punish Belarus for crash-landing a Ryanair flight last weekend by announcing that it would again impose sanctions on nine of the country’s state-owned companies and join the EU to launch a list of additional goals.
In a statement late on Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Washington was taking the steps “with our partners and allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to advance our commitment to the aspirations of the people of America. Belarus “.
On Sunday, Belarusian authorities diverted a Ryanair plane between Greece and Lithuania to Minsk so they could detain a dissident on board.
The brutal action sparked a wave of condemnation from the west against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko, closely linked to Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, and swift action by the EU to punish Belarus. The US was slower to respond, but started taking action on Friday.
Psaki said that starting June 3, the US would again impose “full blocking sanctions” on nine Belarusian state-owned companies that had previously received sanctions from the US Treasury Department.
In addition, the White House press secretary said the US was “developing a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the regime in Belarus that” linked to continued human rights violations and corruption, the falsification of elections. 2020 and the events. from May 23 ”.
Psaki added that the Treasury Department would also draft an executive order for President Joe Biden to sign authorizing US authorities to impose sanctions on elements of the regime in Belarus, as well as on the support network and those who support corruption, the abuse. human rights and attacks on democracy ”.
The Washington crackdown also includes a warning from the US State Department to US citizens to avoid travel to Belarus, and a message for US passenger airlines to “use extreme caution when considering entering Belarusian airspace. to fly “- although this did not seem to comply with an outright ban.
Early this week, the EU agreed to extend sanctions against Belarus and ban the national airline from the bloc’s airports in response to the intercepted flight. Brussels also called for the immediate release of Roman Protasevich, a prominent activist, and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who were detained after the Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk.
Washington’s move could complicate the run-up to a Biden-Putin summit to take place in Geneva in mid-June in an effort by the two countries to resolve relations that have rapidly deteriorated in recent months.