Even before the plane incident, the European Union had imposed sanctions on the strongman of the Belarusian leader, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, and some of his associates.
But outraged by the forced landing of the Ryanair flight, European leaders wanted to step up the pressure, with the measures focused on aviation being a first step.
The leaders also pledged to add new sanctions against the Minsk regime, imposing “additional lists of persons and entities as soon as possible”.
Some analysts had predicted that the European Union might be reluctant to ban flights over Belarus because such a move would create difficulties for European airlines.
Already, airlines are avoiding Ukraine, the country’s southern neighbor, due to its conflict with Russia. The exclusion of Belarusian airspace also presents serious routing difficulties for flights between Europe and Asia.