U.S. drawing up focused sanctions on Belarus officers after airplane incident By Reuters

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© Reuters. US President Joe Biden makes remarks at the Langley-Eustis Joint Base in Hampton, Va., The United States, May 28, 2021. REUTERS / Ken Cedeno

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden government said Friday it was drafting a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government following the forced landing of a passenger plane in the former Soviet republic and the arrest of a journalist on board.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States would also suspend a 2019 Washington-Minsk deal that allowed airlines in each country to use the other’s airspace and other measures against the president’s administration Seize Alexander Lukashenko.

In a statement, she called on Lukashenko to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, when the Ryanair passenger jet, which was flying from Greece to Lithuania, landed in Minsk.

Belarusian authorities messed up a fighter jet and reported what turned out to be a false bomb alarm to force the plane to land, and then arrested an opposition journalist who was on board, condemned by Europe and the United States.

Psaki said the United States would work with the EU and other allies to develop a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Lukashenko administration “related to ongoing human rights violations and corruption, the 2020 election fraud and the events of the 23rd”.

Last year, the United States imposed sanctions on eight Belarusian officials for an August 2020 election that the West said was manipulated.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday sanctions against Belarus were “at play” without giving details.

The Treasury Department will draft an order to be signed by Biden that will give more powers to impose sanctions on elements of Lukashenko’s government, and the United States will on 3rd ban US persons from dealing with these companies.

Last month, the United States revoked certain transactions with the nine sanctioned state-owned companies for alleged human rights abuses and abuses.

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