White House announces sanctions over Belarus’ passenger plane interception

The White House on Friday said the Department of State has issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Warning to U.S. citizens, urging them to not travel to Belarus. The FAA also warned U.S. passenger carriers “to exercise extreme caution when considering flying in Belarusian airspace.”

The U.S. will also re-impose sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises, the statement said. The White House said it is also coordinating with the European Union and other allies to develop targeted sanctions against Lukashenka and members of his regime “associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election, and the events of May 23.”

“We call on Lukashenka to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, immediately release all political prisoners, and enter into a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with the leaders of the democratic opposition and civil society groups that leads to the conduct of free and fair Presidential elections under OSCE auspices and monitoring,” the White House said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously condemned Belarus’ actions.

“This shocking act,” Blinken said Sunday, “perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens. Initial reports suggesting the involvement of the Belarusian security services and the use of Belarusian military aircraft to escort the plane are deeply concerning and require full investigation.”