Washington/Brussels/Minsk – Western countries have adopted an aggressive stand over the hijacking of the aeroplane to Belarus to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich. On Monday, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union announced harsh sanctions against Belarus through a joint statement. The sanctions include the son of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko along with senior leaders, officials and companies. European Union claimed that these new sanctions would hit the Belarusian economy hard.
Last month, an airplane of the Ryanair company, travelling from Greece to Lithuania, was forced to land at the Minsk airport in Belarus. As a result, journalist Roman Protasevick and his co-passenger Sophia Sapega, travelling on the airplane, were detained by the Belarus agencies. It has been revealed that Protasevich was taken to prison and forced to confess. The West reacted strongly to this act of hijacking an airplane to arrest an opposing journalist.
Following this incident, the European Union adopted an aggressive stance and announced a flight ban and stopping investments. But President Lukashenko, maintained a defiant stand, justifying the action. At the same time, he met Russian President Vladimir Putin to face the possible measures against Belarus. The Belarusian President once again made aggressive statements after the Russian President assured support.
Given the refusal by the Belarusian President to retreat, the western countries decided to take combined solid action. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union issued a joint statement ‘The Lukashenko regime is consistently trampling human rights, fundamental freedom and international regulations and we are concerned about it. The Belarus regime is blatantly violating the internationally accepted declarations. It will have to pay a dear price for it. We will retaliate jointly on this issue.’
The United States has blacklisted 16 leaders and officials close to President Lukashenko and froze assets of five companies. The European Union has imposed sanctions against 78 leaders and officials along with holdings of 8 companies. The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on 11 people and two companies, including the Belarus oil company. In contrast, Canada imposed sanctions against 17 officials and five companies. Following these sanctions, the European Union also indicated that sanctions would also be imposed on the leading products imported from Belarus.