As of tonight, planes from Belarus are no longer allowed to fly through the airspace of the European Union and therefore not to land at the airports of the member states of the European Union. Brussels’ decision is a reaction to the stopover of Ryanair in Minsk forced by Belarus on May 23. On board was the critical journalist Roman Protasevich, who was removed from the plane and detained.
A statement issued by the European Union stated that the closure of the airspace of Belarusian aircraft will enter into force at midnight.
On Wednesday, the European Air Traffic Safety Agency (EASA) had already issued a directive for aircraft from the European Union. They should avoid Belarusian airspace unless there is an emergency. As a result, some flights to Asia may take longer and be more expensive.
Until recently, the Belarusian airline Belavia flew to 20 destinations in Europe, including airports in Germany, France, Italy and Austria.
Belarusian President Lukashenko defended Protasevich’s arrest, claiming that the journalist organized an uprising. He accuses the West of seeking to undermine his regime.
This week, Belarusian state television broadcast an interview with Protasevich likely to recede under pressure. Outgoing Foreign Minister Kaag described today’s interview as a “horrific show”.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled Belarus after last year’s presidential elections, called on the G7 of Poland to cooperate in imposing new sanctions against the regime in Minsk.
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