EU Vows Sanctions After Belarus “Hijacks” Airliner

The Washington Post reports:

European leaders on Monday were considering a plan to sever Belarus from the rest of the continent’s airspace, a day after Belarusian authorities forced a commercial airliner to land and arrested a dissident journalist who had been flying from Athens to Lithuania.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that AirBaltic, a major airline in the region, would no longer fly through Belarusian airspace after a Ryanair flight was forced to land Sunday by a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet.

The plane was nearing Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday before Belarusian authorities turned it around, made it land in their capital, Minsk, and arrested journalist Roman Protasevich, the founder of an opposition media outlet.

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Photo: Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

Foreign Policy reports:

EU leaders used the terms “air piracy” and “state hijacking” to describe the incident. The leaders of Lithuania and Poland, where Protasevich was living in exile, have been vocal in calling for action.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for fresh sanctions on Belarus at a meeting of EU leaders on Monday, while Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Belarus’s action an “unprecedented act of state terrorism.”

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has promised “consequences” for “outrageous and illegal behavior” and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the incident “shocking” and said that the United States is working with its partners on further actions.