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EU leaders back Belarus sanctions over forced landing of Ryanair plane

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Summit also calls for release of activist and traveling companion.

In response to the interception of a passenger jet by Belarus, EU leaders on Monday demanded the release of opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his traveling companion, Sofia Sapega, and called for a barrage of new sanctions against the government of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

In a statement after discussions at a summit in Brussels, heads of state and government called for sanctions against individuals and “entities.” They also said the Council of the European Union would adopt measures to ban Belarusian airlines from flying in EU airspace or accessing EU airports.

The leaders’ statement effectively provides the appearance of a quick, forceful response to the incident on Sunday, which several have denounced as a “hijacking” and “state-sponsored terrorism.” But the true extent of the EU’s response will not be known until officials, diplomats and lawyers work through the details of sanctions, which must be drafted to withstand legal challenges.


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