EU leaders agree to pile more sanctions on Belarus over Ryanair incident



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders agreed on Monday to impose more sanctions on Belarus, including economic ones, called on their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and authorised work to ban Belarusian airlines from European skies and airports, a spokesman said.

Meeting in Brussels, the 27 national leaders of the bloc demanded an immediate release of dissident Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, as well as an investigation by the International Organization for Civilian Aviation into a Sunday incident during which Belarus forced a Ryanair flight to land in Minsk.

They expressed solidarity with their peer Latvia after it said it was expelling the Belarusian ambassador and all diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to Minsk, which had told the Baltic state’s envoy to leave.

Foreign and other EU ministers will now be tasked with formalising these political decisions announced by Barend Leyts, spokesman for EU summit chairman Charles Michel, after two hours of talks at a summit in Brussels.

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