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Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko speaking in Minsk in August 2020. Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada announced coordinated sanctions Monday on dozens of Belarusian individuals and entities in response to the government's forced diversion of a Ryanair flight last month and ongoing crackdown against the country's pro-democracy movement.

Why it matters: The West is ratcheting up its pressure campaign against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who — with the backing of Russia — has continued to cling to power 10 months after an election that international observers have condemned as fraudulent.

  • Belarusian security services called in a fake bomb threat to force a Ryanair passenger flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk. Once the flight landed, agents arrested Raman Pratasevich, a journalist and opposition leader, and Sofiya Sapega, another journalist.
  • Lukashenko's regime has also carried out a brutal crackdown against Belarusians protesting the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, detaining and torturing pro-democracy activists.

What they're saying: "We are united in calling for the regime to end its repressive practices against its own people. We are disappointed the regime has opted to walk away from its human rights obligations, adherence to democratic principles, and engagement with the international community," the U.S., EU, U.K. and Canada said in a joint statement.

The big picture: The EU is also preparing a fourth round of economic sanctions that will target Belarus' banking, oil, tobacco and potash industries, according to the New York Times.

Go deeper: Russia blocks flights that avoid Belarusian airspace

Go deeper

Aug 31, 2021 - World

70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

Staffers at a Vacci-Bus wait for vaccination seekers in July at the Place des Martyrs in Brussels. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the EU one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.