Belarus State Airlines has announced that it has had to halve its aircraft fleet by almost half after it became the target of European Union sanctions, Reuters reports.

The EU sanctioned Belavia on Thursday, accusing it of bringing in migrants by plane as part of Belarus’ action to destabilize European states, with punitive measures being taken along with the United States.

The sanctions mean that EU companies can no longer rent planes to the airline, European officials said.

“Due to the imposition of restrictions, the airline was forced to reduce its fleet,” Belavia said in a statement, adding that it currently has 15 aircraft.

It did not specify which of the 14 Boeing aircraft and 15 Embraer aircraft it previously owned were no longer part of the fleet.

At the end of last year, the airline owned 15 aircraft, of which 5 were Embraer and 8 were Boeing, and another 15 were leased. One of Belavia’s largest leasing aircraft suppliers was Air Lease Corporation (ALC).

Belavia, the only airline in the former Soviet country with a population of 9.5 million, said it intends to rebuild its fleet by buying planes and leasing them from companies based outside the EU.

We recall that Belavia was also denied access to much of European airspace after the Lukashenko regime forced a Ryanair plane to land to arrest a dissident.

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