Russia will "defend" Belarus if the EU imposes economic sanctions

Russia will defend Belarus, and provide assistance, if the European Union imposes economic sanctions on Minsk over the grounding of a plane and arrest of a dissident blogger, the RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

Many European nations have imposed flight bans on Belarusian aviation over the forced landing of a Ryanair flight on May 23rd. Moscow has responded by slapping bans on European airlines seeking to fly to Russia but without overflying Belarus. Overflight fees are a major source of income for the country.

The EU is currently weighing further sanctions, and the U.S. has announced that it would reimpose sanctions on nine of the country’s state-owned companies and would join Brussels and the member states in developing a list of additional targets.

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