The European Union is planning to impose sanctions on airlines belonging to Belarus and Syria, as thousands of migrants and refugees continue to be trafficked to eastern Europe and amass at the Polish border.
According to the news outlet, Bloomberg, which cited two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the Belarusian national carrier, Belavia, and the Syrian airline, Cham Wings, are set to be sanctioned, if approved by the EU member states this week.
The two companies are amongst 17 individuals and 11 entities which are on the list to potentially be subject to European sanctions. The other entities include the Belarusian nitrogen fertiliser producer, Grodno Azot, and oil producer, Belarusneft, and individuals include Belarusian border officials and judges.
Over the past few months, migrants and refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq have amassed at Belarus's border with Poland and other nearby states, after being trafficked to Minsk by a consortium of smugglers and airlines.
Since then, thousands of the migrants have been held at Belarus's border with Poland, in particular, where Belarusian forces have reportedly beaten, abused, and, at times, forced them to cross the border in harsh weather conditions.
The EU's sanctions package has long been in the works, with the bloc last month approving new powers to allow it to impose such measures on individuals and entities involved in human trafficking and smuggling.
It is not only the EU that is preparing to impose a new round of sanctions, however, as Bloomberg also cited a senior US State Department official as revealing that the administration under President Joe Biden will unveil a new sanctions package "very soon" against Belarus, which would reportedly be in coordination with European nations.