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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, in Sochi, on May 28. Photo: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Friday announced new crackdowns against Belarus as punishment for forcing down a Ryanair flight to arrest an opposition journalist.

The big picture: The announcement comes hours after Aleksandr Lukashenko met with ally Vladimir Putin in Sochi. President Biden will be meeting with his Russian counterpart in Geneva on June 16.

Details: The United States on June 3 will reimpose full blocking sanctions against nine state-owned companies, which had previously been granted sanction relief "under a series of General Licenses by the Treasury Department."

  • Belarus has been a target of U.S. sanctions in the past, particularly after Lukashenko claimed victory in a highly disputed election last summer and authorized violent crackdowns on protestors.
  • The European Union announced earlier in the week that it would impose additional economic sanctions following the hijacking.
  • The Treasury Department is also working on a new executive order, which would provide Biden further latitude to increase sanctions against the Lukashenko government and its allies.
  • The White House reiterated its continued cooperation with its European allies, as well as the State Department's travel warning for U.S. citizens.
  • The statement also includes the Federal Aviation Administration's advisory for U.S. passenger airlines to "exercise extreme caution" when flying over Belarus.

What they're saying: "We call on Lukashenka to allow a credible international investigation into the events of May 23, immediately release all political prisoners, and enter into a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue with the leaders of the democratic opposition and civil society groups that leads to the conduct of free and fair Presidential elections under OSCE auspices and monitoring," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on behalf of the White House.

Go deeper ... Biden: U.S. will coordinate with the EU on Belarus response

Go deeper

Roughly 500 Americans still waiting to leave Afghanistan

Ned Price. Photo: KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration said Friday that the State Department is in touch with approximately 500 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who still wish to leave the country.

Why it matters: The Aug. 31 deadline for a U.S. troop withdrawal is looming closer. While the Biden administration has said there is no plan to extend the deadline, the president suggested on Thursday that efforts may continue past that date to bring some Americans home.

Updated 2 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

48 mins ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.