EU considers imposing a no-fly zone in Belarus after Ryanair hijacking

European leaders study this Monday new sanctions against the Lukashenko regime for its act of “state piracy.”

The act of “state piracy“unprecedented perpetrated by the regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko It has caused a stir among European leaders. The Belarusian president orchestrated the forced landing in Minsk of a plane of Ryanair who was traveling between two European capitals (Athens and Vilnius) with more than 100 passengers on board in order to arrest the dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich. A “kidnapping” for which he used a false bomb threat and a military fighter.

The heads of State and Government of the 27 will discuss in the face-to-face summit that begins this Monday in Brussels new sanctions against Lukashenko in retaliation against this action that some of them, like the Polish Mateusz Morawiecki, they have already crossed out “State terrorism”.

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, who has also spoken of an act of air piracy, has ensured that Belarusian intelligence agents were traveling on the plane, who boarded in Athens and stayed in Minsk.

What happened yesterday is an international scandal“, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, upon arrival at the summit. “The lives of European civilians have been put at risk. It is a threat to international security and a threat to civil aviation that requires a firm response, “he assures.

Among the restrictive measures that European leaders are weighing are the declaration as “unsafe” of Belarusian airspace so that European airlines avoid flying over it, as well as the ban on landing in Europe for the Belarusian flag carrier, Belavia. These sanctions have been proposed by the President of Lithuania, Nauseated Gypsies, and their Latvian and Estonian counterparts.

The airline Air Baltic has already announced that it will avoid entering Belarusian airspace until the situation clears up or until the European authorities take a decision on the matter.

Before the start of the summit, the head of community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has summoned the Ambassador of Belarus in Brussels, Aleksandr Mikhnevich, to convey the “firm condemnation” of the EU to the hijacking of the Ryanair plane and demand the Pratasevich’s “immediate release”. Other European capitals have taken similar initiatives.

“By carrying out this coercive act, Belarusian authorities have endangered the safety of passengers and crew“Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the 27 Member States.” It is another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all voices of the opposition, “underlines the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU.

The EU will call for an international investigation into this incident to “determine any breach of international aviation rules.”

“The forced landing of a commercial passenger plane to illegally detain a journalist and political opponent is totally reprehensible and an unacceptable act of aggression that we may be allowed“Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the daily Financial times.

Black list of sanctioned leaders

“It is an amazing and scandalous case, it is an act of state piracy that cannot go unpunished“, argues the French Secretary of State for the EU, Clément Beaune.

European leaders also weigh expand the list of Belarusian leaders who are prohibited from entering the Union and whose bank accounts have been frozen in Community territory. But in this chapter, the room for maneuver is much narrower: this “black list” already includes 88 people and 7 entities from Belarus.

Among them are the president himself Lukashenko and your son and national security advisor, Viktor Lukashenko, as well as other key figures of the political power and the State administration, high-level members of the judicial system and several prominent economic agents.

All of them have been sanctioned for their role in the fraudulent presidential elections of August 2020 and in the subsequent violent repression against peaceful protesters, members of the opposition and journalists. The EU does not recognize the results of these elections, in which Lukashenko was proclaimed the winner for the sixth time in a row, and condemns them for not considering them free or fair.

To the list could now be added the directly responsible for the hijacking of the Ryanair plane. But the truth is that so far the EU sanctions have not achieved any tangible results in changing the behavior of the Lukashenko regime.