Western sanctions bordering on a 'declaration of economic war', says Belarus


FILE PHOTO: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko attends the Roundtable Summit Phase One Sessions of Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Belarus views Western sanctions, imposed in response to Minsk's forced landing of a Ryanair plane last month to arrest a journalist on board, as a declaration of economic war, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Western powers hit Belarus with a wave of new sanctions on Monday in a coordinated response against officials, lawmakers and ministers from the administration of President Alexander Lukashenko, whose air force intercepted the Ryanair plane flying between Athens and Vilnius on May 23 in what the West called state piracy.

Minsk said the sanctions would negatively impact the interests of its citizens and warned that it would be forced to take reciprocal measures that could in turn adversely affect citizens and businesses of Western countries.

"[The EU] continues purposeful destructive actions against the population in order, allegedly, to "dry up the regime financially." In fact, this borders on a declaration of economic war," the ministry said.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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