The United States will reintroduce sanctions on Belarus following the hijacking of the RYANAIR plane to Minsk

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The White House has announced that the United States will re-impose sanctions on Belarus starting next week. The decision comes a few days later hijacking a Ryanair plane in Minsk and the arrest of an opposition journalist on board.

In a statement Friday night, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the incident a "direct affront to international norms" and called on President Alexander Lukashenko to allow a "credible international investigation" into the events and "release" immediately all political prisoners ”.

Psaki said the United States would impose "total blocking sanctions on nine state-owned enterprises in Belarus," which would prohibit Americans from engaging in transactions with these entities.

The United States is also working with the European Union and other allies to draw up a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Lukashenko's regime, and the Treasury Department is drafting a new executive order for Biden, which would give the president authority increased to impose sanctions on the regime, Psaki said.

The state department issued a warning to US citizens urging them not to travel to Belarus, and the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines to "be extremely careful when considering flying into Belarusian airspace."

The actions, Psaki said, are "in response to the events of May 23 and the Lukashenko regime's ongoing attack on fundamental freedoms."

Last weekend, a Ryanair plane flying in Belarusian airspace on the Athens-Vilnius route was diverted to Minsk due to an alleged bomb on board. On the spot, the security agents arrested Roman Protasievici, co-founder of the social media news channel NEXTA.

Belarus has been accused of "hijacking" the civilian plane, while Belarusian authorities have continued to say they are responding to a real bomb threat and acting to protect passengers. Roman Protasievici and his girlfriend remain in custody and may be sentenced to life in prison.

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