The US has moved to punish Belarus for the forced landing of a Ryanair flight last weekend by announcing that it would reimpose sanctions on nine of the country’s state-owned companies and would join the EU in developing a list of additional targets.
In a statement late on Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Washington was taking the steps “together with our partners and allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to demonstrate our commitment to the aspirations of the people of Belarus”.
On Sunday Belarusian authorities diverted a Ryanair jet travelling between Greece and Lithuania to Minsk so they could detain a dissident on board.
The brazen move triggered a wave of condemnation from the west against president Alexander Lukashenko’s government, which is closely allied with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, and quick action by the EU to punish Belarus. The US was slower to respond but on Friday it began to take action.
Psaki said that as of June 3, the US would reimpose “full blocking sanctions” against nine state-owned companies from Belarus that had previously been granted sanctions relief from the US Treasury department.