The European Union decided on Friday to ban Belarusian airlines from accessing its airspace and finalise new economic sanctions against the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, several diplomatic sources in Brussels told AFP.
The measure, demanded by European leaders at the end of May, was legally formalised on Friday by the 27 Member States.
The ban is due to come into force on Saturday.
It primarily concerns the national company Belavia and this measure constitutes a powerful economic sanction against Belarus, explained a diplomat.
The sanction stems from the decision of the Belarusian authorities to divert to Minsk a plane of the European airline Ryanair connecting Athens to Vilnius (two EU capitals) to arrest two of its passengers, the Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protassevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega.
European airlines have also been instructed not to fly over Belarusian airspace.