European Union leaders are meeting now to consider new sanctions against Belarus.

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The chorus of condemnation and anger from across the European Union swelled on Monday as leaders began discussing potential sanctions they could bring to Belarus for its downing of a civilian airliner.

However, the measures available to them are somewhat limited, given that sanctions are already in place by the European Union against Alexander J. Lukashenko, the brutal and irregular leader of Belarus who clung to power despite massive protests against his government, and dozens of his direct aides. .

At a summit to be held on Monday evening, European leaders are expected to discuss adding aviation sanctions.

Options may include designating Belarusian airspace unsafe for European Union carriers, preventing flights from Belarus from landing at EU airports, and imposing sanctions on the national airline, Belavia.

European Union leaders also called on the International Civil Aviation Organization to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the accident.

As European Union officials consider their options, Lithuania – the original destination of Ryanair’s flight and one of the countries that share borders with Belarus – said it is banning flights over Belarus and has strongly advised its citizens not to travel there.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. He said The government was responding to “unprecedented threats” from Belarus and that it would press for the European Union to impose further measures.

Where the flight took off, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it was crucial for the European Union to take resolute action, especially in light of the bloc’s repeated paralysis on foreign affairs issues, including the recent failure to agree on a statement on the Middle East. Eastern conflict.

“Our inability to reach a consensus on recent events in Israel and Gaza – where we unilaterally failed to present a unified position – must not be repeated,” Mitsotakis said. Financial Times. “The forced stopping of a commercial airliner for the unlawful detention of a political opponent and a journalist is completely reprehensible and an unacceptable act of aggression that cannot be allowed to stand.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, promised to take action at the Leaders Summit.

She said in a tweet on Sunday evening: “The scandalous and illegal behavior of the regime in Belarus will have consequences,” adding that there should be penalties for “those responsible for” # Ryanair kidnapped. “

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