Amid showdown with EU, Lukashenko seeks Russia’s help

Belarus’ authoritarian leader will discuss closer economic ties with Russia on Friday, as he seeks support from his main backer amid a bruising showdown with the EU over the forced diversion of a passenger jet to arrest a dissident journalist.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has found himself increasingly isolated after 26-year-old journalist Raman Pratasevich was arrested after his flight was forced to land in Minsk.

EU leaders denounced it as a hijacking and piracy and responded by barring Belarusian carriers from the bloc’s airspace and airports and advising European airlines to skirt Belarus. The bloc’s Foreign Ministers sketched out tougher sanctions on Thursday to target the country’s lucrative potash industry and other sectors.

Mr. Lukashenko and President Vladimir Putin are set to meet on Friday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

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