U.S. drawing up sanctions on Belarus officials

The Biden administration is making a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government, after it recently forced the landing of a passenger jet and arrested a journalist on board.

In a Friday statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. was also suspending a 2019 agreement between Washington and Minsk that allowed carriers from each country to use the other's airspace.

Psaki called on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, when the Ryanair passenger jet flying from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk.

Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force the plane to land.

An opposition journalist on board was detained… drawing condemnation from Europe and the United States.

Psaki said the U.S., along with the EU and other allies, was developing a list of sanctions against key members of Lukashenko's government (quote) “associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election, and the events of May 23."

The United States last year imposed sanctions on eight Belarus officials over an August 2020 election that the West said was rigged.

On June 3, the U.S. will re-impose "full blocking sanctions" on nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises, according to Psaki, which will prohibit Americans from dealing with those businesses.

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