Belarusian President Denies Forcing Airliner To Land

The Associated Press reports:

Belarus’ authoritarian president defended Wednesday his decision to tell a passenger jet to land in his country and accused European leaders of waging a “hybrid war” to “strangle” his nation by ordering up new sanctions for diverting the flight and arresting an opposition journalist who was aboard.

Speaking before lawmakers and top officials, President Alexander Lukashenko maintained his contention that there was a bomb threat against the Ryanair flight and called it an “absolute lie” that a fighter jet he scrambled was forcing the passenger plane to land in Minsk. The carrier has said its crew was instructed to land.

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