British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has warned that Belarus may be slipping "into pariah status" after it recently forced a civilian aircraft to land in Minsk to arrest opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend.
"We need Belarus to step up and live up to the basic, fundamental, cardinal rules of international law," Raab told the Reuters news agency in an interview published on June 11.
Raab's comments come a day after the European Parliament called for sweeping economic sanctions and a raft of other measures against Belarus in response to growing repression and the forced landing of the plane, a Ryanair passenger jet that was flying between two EU capitals on May 23.
In a nonbinding resolution that says it considers the regime in Belarus as "illegitimate, illegal, and criminal," EU lawmakers said economic sanctions should target Belarus's state-run companies in the oil, potash, steel, and wood-processing industries.
The European Union has already imposed three rounds of sanctions on Belarus, applying asset freezes and visa bans on 88 individuals and seven entities, including authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has launched a sometimes violent crackdown on dissent after claiming to win a disputed presidential election last August.
Almost 30,000 people have been detained in the crackdown, with many sentenced to lengthy prison terms, hundreds beaten, several killed, and journalists targeted for reporting on the events.