WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday banned the sale of air tickets to and from Belarus after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land and detained a dissident journalist on board.
This is the latest response from Washington to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal crackdown on months of pro-democracy protests over his alleged fraud in the August 2020 elections. The veteran ruler denies electoral fraud.
The United States and the European Union refused to recognize their victory and imposed sanctions on top Belarusian officials and other targets.
In issuing the ban, the US Department of Transportation said the State Department had determined that restricting travel between the US and Belarus was in Washington’s foreign policy interest following the diversion of Ryanair’s flight.
According to the text, the order would still allow “the operation of any means of transportation deemed in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian or national security reasons.”
He said the order would be extended to “interline” travel where tickets are purchased through an airline that contains flights operated by several airlines.
The guidance – under consideration for several weeks – is mostly symbolic, as relatively few tickets to Belarus are purchased from US travel services.
Open for public comment until July 1.
After a Ryanair flight crashed on May 23 en route from Athens to Vilnius, the US government advised airlines to exercise extreme caution when flying over Belarus. At the time, the United States did not impose any restrictions.
United Airlines (UAL.O) It flies on a route to India that is sometimes routed near Belarus, but no other American passenger carrier normally flies through the airspace of the former Soviet Republic.