Belarus EU imposes sanctions on Belarusian state-owned airline and other international companies involved in migrant smuggling and trafficking

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accuses Belarus of a hybrid attack on the Union.

European Union is reported new sanctions against transport companies involved in the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. This is a response to the ongoing geopolitical confrontation on the Polish-Belarusian border.

During the autumn, thousands of migrants have crossed the border between Belarus and Poland into the European Union. Belarus began return flights to the Middle East last week, but the Polish border says the crisis is not over.

“Belarus leads hybrid attack on European Union” said on Twitter the union President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen on tuesday.

“We are on the side of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.”

Read more: Return flights continue from Minsk, but border crisis is not expected to be over – Russia says it will respond to provocations “appropriately”

According to Von der Leyen, the European Union is taking action in four different areas. It provides humanitarian aid, engages in diplomacy, imposes new sanctions and develops border security.

Union the latest sanctions concern the Belarussian state-owned airline Belavia and other transport companies involved in the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking.

The reason for the new sanctions is growing suspicion about the role of Belavia in transporting migrants to Europe, the news agency AFP. says

Passenger plane of the Belarusian airline Belavia at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in July 2018.

Commission outlines a blacklist of companies banned from operating in the Union, flying through Union airspace and being allowed to service or refuel vehicles in EU countries. The rules apply on a case-by-case basis for different companies

The list includes all companies involved in the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, regardless of whether they operate in land, air or sea transport.

According to Von der Leyen, the Commission has presented recent sanctions plans to the European Parliament and the European Council. New activities will also be coordinated with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Sanctions are a hard blow to Belavia. The majority of aircraft operated by the Belarusian company are leased from airlines operating in EU member states, especially Ireland.

President of the European Council Charles Michelin according to these leases expire immediately when the sanctions take effect.

“We will not allow the Belarussian government to intimidate us and undermine our unity and values,” Michel said.

Belavia was founded in 1996. Finnair Finland has been one of Belavia’s partners. In 2011, Finnair and Belavia started flights between Minsk and Helsinki.

Finnair however, suspended cooperation on Belavia flights between Helsinki and Minsk for the time being in the spring of 2021. The reason was Traficom’s recommendation to avoid airspace in Belarus. While the co-operation was in force, Finnair’s website was able to book flights operated by Belavia.

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