The permanent representatives of all EU member states have agreed on a fifth round of sanctions on Belarus, including on Belavia (B2, Minsk National) and Syria's Cham Wings Airlines (SAW, Damascus).

The decision of the Council of the European Union, the intergovernmental body of the EU, was pre-approved during a December 1, 2021, meeting of the ambassadorial body COREPER II. It will be published in the bloc's Official Journal on December 2 with details of the sanctions once the Council confirms it, which is expected to happen without further amendments. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had reported that the punitive measures would include 17 Belarussian individuals, mostly Border Guard officials and judges, 11 enterprises including Belavia and Cham Wings Airlines. The Syrian carrier is one of two non-Belarussian entities on the list, alongside Turkish travel agent VIP Grub Visa Center. Other sanctioned firms include tyre manufacturer Belshina, chemical company Grodno Khimvolokno, and petro distributor Belorusneft.

While details of the sanctions have yet to be confirmed, earlier reports indicated that Belavia would no longer be able to lease aircraft from European entities. The ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows the state-owned carrier leases 21 out of its 30 commercial aircraft, including 16 from EU-based lessors and airlines (AerCap, Nordic Aviation Capital, SMBC Aviation Capital, Thunderbolt Aircraft Lease, and Carpatair (V3, Timisoara)), and one more from an undisclosed but also Ireland-based lessor. The B737-800 leased from SMBC, EW-543PA (msn 35137), has already been returned and is currently stored as EI-GYP at Ostrava, ch-aviation research shows.

Belavia and other Belarussian carriers are already banned from overflying the European Union or operating to the bloc.

In turn, Cham Wings Airlines owns all three of its A320-200s and does not operate to the EU. The Syrian carrier, which operated charter flights from Damascus to Minsk this summer, has been blacklisted by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since late 2016 for its links to the Syrian government and Syrianair.

The sanctions pertain to the Belarussian government's alleged involvement in a migrant-smuggling racket, wherein Belarus has orchestrated mass migration from various Arab states, via Minsk National, to the borders of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, with the presumed intention of creating a political crisis in these countries and the EU at large. Migrants were allegedly ferried by Belavia, but also Turkish Airlines and other carriers, although at no point did the officials suggest that these airlines had actively encouraged their transit to the EU. In response to European pressure, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have already banned the carriage of Iraqi, Syria, Afghan, and Yemeni nationals heading to Belarus from any airports in their territories.

The Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported that the EU was working on a much broader set of sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko's regime, which could be adopted in the first quarter of 2022.