Starting tonight, aircraft from Belarus will no longer be allowed to fly through the airspace of the European Union and thus not land at airports in EU Member States. The Brussels decision is a response to the relaunching of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk on 23 May. On board was the critical journalist Roman Protasevich, who was removed from the plane and locked down.
The closure of the airspace for Belarusian aircraft commences at midnight, is stated in an EU declaration.
On Wednesday, the European Air Traffic Safety Agency (EASA) already issued a directive on aircraft from the European Union. They must avoid Belarusian airspace unless there is an emergency. As a result, some flights to Asia may take longer and become more expensive.
Until recently, Belarusian airline Belavia flew to 20 destinations in Europe, including airports in Germany, France, Italy and Austria.
Belarusian President Lukashenko defended the arrest of Protasevich by stating that the journalist organized an insurrection. He accuses the West of trying to undermine his regime.
This week, the Belarusian state TV broadcast an interview with Protasevich, which most likely decreased under pressure. Demissionary Minister Kaag of Foreign Affairs called the interview today “a terrible display”.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled Belarus after last years presidential elections, has called on the G7 from Poland to cooperate in introducing new sanctions against the regime in Minsk.