E.U. and Britain Move to Impede Belarus’s Access to Air Travel

The European Union moved toward prohibiting Belarusian airlines from operating in its airspace or landing at its airports — a move that would effectively block the country’s air connections to Western Europe — a day after that country’s leader sent a fighter jet to force down a Ryanair flight in order to seize an opposition journalist on board.

Europe’s decision came after the British government said it would prohibit Belarus’s national airline from landing or operating in the country. Both Britain and the E.U. also advised airlines to avoid flying through Belarusian airspace.

Belarus, in eastern-central Europe, is along a major air corridor between Europe and Asia.

The moves came as airlines and lawmakers were trying to find the right way to respond to what was widely seen as a shocking move by Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the Belarusian president who has clung to power despite huge protests last year. European Union officials are expected to meet on Monday to discuss their options for penalizing the country, which is closely aligned with Russia.

The British government said that it was halting all flights by Belavia, the Belarus national airline, to Britain immediately. “This essentially means no journeys are possible from Belarus to the U.K.,” a government spokesman said.

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