Belarus announced on May 25 it will close its embassy in Canada as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the forced diversion of an airliner and arrest of a prominent Belarusian journalist and said possible sanctions were on the table.
On its website, the embassy in Ottawa said it will shut down on September 1 and stop consular services as of July 10 after “mutually beneficial cooperation” over 24 years.
Charge d'Affaires Evgeny Russak told AFP the decision was “not spontaneous” and was made based on an analysis of “the practical impact of the current bilateral contacts.”
During a press conference, Trudeau called Belarus’s rerouting of a Ryanair flight and arrest of dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich “outrageous, illegal, and completely unacceptable.”
He also said that Canada would examine whether to expand existing sanctions on the regime of authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Following similar moves by other countries, Canada also advised Canadian airlines and aircraft to avoid Belarusian airspace due to safety and security concerns.
The global aviation industry began rerouting flights on May 24 to avoid Belarusian airspace after EU leaders called on the bloc’s airlines to avoid the Eastern European country’s skies and moved to ban Belarusian airlines from EU airspace and airports.
In coordination with the European Union, Britain, and the United States, Canada has imposed sanctions on Belarusian officials following a disputed presidential election in August 2020.