Belarus has forced a Ryanair airliner, flying from Athens to Vilnius, to land in order to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich.

The action has been described by Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics as “contrary to international law”.

The aircraft (unlike our stock image above) is registered in Poland.

According to reports, Belarus state media said the plane had been diverted because of a bomb scare. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was beaten by Alexander Lukashenko last year in presidential polls widely denounced as rigged, also demanded Mr Protasevich’s release.

Since August’s election the 66-year-old Mr Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, has cracked down on dissenting voices, with many opposition figures either arrested or, like Ms Tikhanovskaya, fleeing into exile.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said that “forcing an aircraft to land to silence opposition voices is an attack on democracy.”

More on this as it develops.

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Ron
Ron
1 month ago

I would like to hear the cockpit voice recorder for the so called bomb scare! Otherwise this is basically a hi-jacking/kidnapping at a international/govermental level. Who gave the authority, the only person to do that must be the head of state. If there is no proof of this so called bomb scare then all Western governments should stop all transactions, ingoing outgoing flights, transit flights, outgoing goods, and goverment officials from using EU/UK air routes, land routes and sea routes for any and all official persons of Belarus and all imports and exports for the country be that by land,… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron

Absolutely Ron, this appears an outrageous breach of international law, requiring a robust Western response…. Belarus needs to be punished for this sort of behaviour.

It amounts to Government ordered air piracy..

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yeah, like that’ll happen ! …. seriously John, we just posture and let things go nowadays…… Salisbury springs to mind.

Julian1
Julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

“Let things go” – really? Wasn’t there severe diplomatic fallout and sanction? Without declaring war, what more could have been done?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

Hardly. The sanctions were pretty minor and targeted things of no interest. But like you said what can you realistically do.

Julian1
Julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

State sanctions were supplemented with sanctions against individuals. Clearly they are of limited effectiveness and usually just harm the poorest. It always surprises me that there is still room for greater sanctions, but they always seem to get round them or really don’t care that much. My own company has a Russian subsidiary, perhaps you could sanction weatern companies that do any kind of business with Russia? Same as Iran

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

Full agreed Julian. My view is sanctions are the lazy mode way of a country being perceived to do something without actually doing much. The problem is they tend to have the reverse of the desired impact, and marginalises the country. It’s better to bring the country into the international community, and over time that will encourage the people of the country to want to be more friendly with the west so they can buy their fancy stuff and that will ultimaltely force the goverment to be more friendly. In short give rogue states a reason to align with western… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

If I recall, the US actually punishe dthe Russians harder than we did over the Salisbury affair. Fair play to them, shame on HMG.

BB85
BB85
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

What diplomatic fall out? Politicians blow a lot of hot air while Germany is pushing through with a direct gas line to Russia.

Julian1
Julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  BB85

Uk expelled entire Russian diplomatic mission 2 years ago, even Trump expelled a number. EU nations were weaker and as you say, suggest, Germany is in a very weak position.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

I wonder if we will be hearing from Michael O’Leary laying into those responsible or uncharacteristically he keeps his gob shut. I suspect his customers are an easier target than those inclined to eliminate mouthy critics.
Belarus should be completely cut off from the outside world over this act of piracy but token efforts are the more likely and sanctions are I suspect far less effective now that Russian and no doubt through it its poodles have all manner of agreements with China to supply many of their needs or enable a back door for other goods.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yes, Ryanair’s reaction appears troubling. According to the released flight path, the jet was significantly closer to it’s destination in Vilnius, Latvia than Minsk, for a bomb risk, and virtually over the internal EU border. Also seems from passenger reports that the real reason for the hijacking would have been assumed by the crew. OK, maybe the crew themselves balls it out for as long as possible, which would have explained the last minute divert if a threat to down them was made by the fighter, say, but so far there’s been no reveal on that issue, which seems strange.… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

How do you edit. I’ve got Latvia

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Hover your cursor over the bottom right hand corner of your post…a cog should appear with the word edit below it. Click on the edit…and Bob’s your uncle!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Thanks for the heads up, H. Still cannot fathom, though. Never mind.

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

If you click on the cog it says Edit…you need to move the cursor down over the “edit” and click on that as well. You will then get your message in a text box!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Finally got a cog to appear on a test post not submitted. No luck here, but thanks anyway.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

Germany is a bloody liability, absolutely terrified of offending Russia …. Interesting to see their response here, I’m betting piss poor!

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

They are really backing themselves into a bit of a corner with Russia. Have pretty much complete energy dependence on nation with an authoritarian regime that due to history does not really like you much is…I would say on the whole a bad idea.

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

The Greens said they will offend Russia by Not buying any more gas.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  BB85

Really, interesting you say that could you give me your qualifications and I would be very interested to see your literature review on the subject.

The Artist Formerly known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly known As Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Apologies man but at the EXTREME risk of taking the thread down another minefield I’ll just say this without using the poop word anywhere. Climate Change alarmists always make the claim that about 2700 scientists agree with them and that these represent about 97% of all scientists. And so, they claim, it is an indisputable fact. But the fact is, there is no consensus in the scientific community over Climate Change. For example a recent U.S. Senate minority report says more than 650 scientists express dissent over man-made global warming claims. In addition, over 30,000 scientists have signed on to… Read more »

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  BB85

Astonishingly ignorant comment!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian1

The Europeans had to be pressured through embarrassment and arms behind back to do anything, even Trump did nothing till his officials told him it would damage relations with their closest ally and threaten big cracks in the trans-Atlantic alliance if they turned a blind eye. The Europeans only then felt obliged to do something too to maintain a whiff of unity. All pretty laughable to the Russians and unsurprisingly down the line having tested the ground with the Ukraine they have now encouraged their only real hard communist ally to cause yet more provocative aggro to further weaken Western… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Don’t be so sure Captain, life’s about to get ‘very’ complicated for Belarus!

Expect European airlines to stop flying there, or over their airspace and their national airline to be banned from European airspace….

All part of a strict sanctions package….

If they can’t believe in a civilised way, they have to be brought to book!

I do have reservations as to the EU’s general snowflake, typically slow as a snail response, but NATO should be front and center here, it’s pretty clear cut.

Even Iran haven’t gone this far, yet!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Certainly seems the most logical and reasonable response. That’d likely fire up O’Lairy’s* mouth again. *no spelling mistake this time.
Regards

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Correct. But Belarus are a proxy for Putin. Both are beyond the pale.
Total disgrace. There ought to be severe repercussions.

simon alexander
simon alexander
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

possibly 4 russians reportedly got off the plane in belarus, they tailed their targets from greece.

James
James
1 month ago

The question is did the plane fly over Belarusian airspace? Or over international airspace or did fly over another country ? If so then Belarusian air force violated that country airspace. I highly doubt without Moscow intelligence this mission could have succeeded

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  James

It was just about to leave Belarussian airspace, it was actually closer to its final destination in Lithuania than Minsk when the order to divert to the “nearest” airport was made.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

I wonder what would have happened if the pilots ignored the mig29 orders and continues on.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

If they had fired on the aircraft then I think that would have been an act of war. Given the plane is registered in Poland then the ball would have been in the Polish Governments court. I would have thought some kind of NATO response, short of war, would have been the outcome. Having said all of that no civil airliner pilot would put his or her crew and passengers at that level of risk, so now we have an interesting situation. There is an article on the BBC website but no mention in the headlines in the TV News… Read more »

david
david
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The plane is flying under EASA reglations and registered in Ireland. I read the above relating to Poland also but unless Ryanair has wet leased a polish aircraft I find it unlikely.

Last edited 1 month ago by david
ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  david

Hi david,

The Polish registration was mentioned on a news bulletin (either C4 or BBC, I can’t remember which). I thought it strange as well hence it stuck in my mind.

NATO has been mentioned in subsequent news bulletins and the fact that is was an EU plane. Poland is common to NATO and the EU, Ireland is not. Circumstancial I know, but RyanAir does what it needs to do to turn a profit, so a cheap lease is entirely possible in these difficult times for the airline industry…

Cheers CR

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  david

Hi David,

Just double checked. Imagines of the plane show a Polish flag and the reistration SP-RSW. Checking online confirms that the plane is a Ryanair plane and that SP is Poland’s registration prefix. It’s a NATO issue, it would appear…

Interesting times.

Cheers CR

david
david
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks CR. The aircraft is flying under an AOC which is registered to “Ryanair Sun”. Offshoot of Ryanair holdings and as you pointed out holds a Polish registration. Still flying under EASA and european regulations. I learnt something today!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  david

You’re welcome.

They were talking about sanctions this morning. Apparently, Belarus raises money by issuing Bonds on the London money markets. We should ban that for starters. That might have a real impact on the Belarus economy which is already struggling…

Cheers CR

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

There should be full Western sanctions against the Belarus regime for this.
Mind you, did not the USA get an Ecuadorian jet to land a few years ago? Or some such. If you set a precedent, it can come back to bite you.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Not familiar with that incident.

This is air piracy, nothing short of it.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Just checked, it was Bolivia in July 2013. The Bolivian President had attended a conference in Russia & was flying home. The USA thought he had the whistleblower, Snowden, on board. So the Americans had the Bolivian presidential jet forced down in Europe. What goes around, comes around.

dan
dan
1 month ago

On orders from the mighty midget Putin.

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Don’t think Putin had anything to do with this. Seems like the Belarus President was settling a personal score with a journalist.

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago

No grey area here, they should put the toughest sanctions on them and freeze any assets they can.

Warren
Warren
1 month ago

By the sounds of it they have breached international law and action needs to be taken, it’s a no brainer 🤷‍♂️

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

As usual with incidents like this, there will be a lot of huffing and puffing, but a complete lack of direct action simply because in reality nobody actually knows how to respond? Belarus(no doubt actively encouraged by Putin) did this knowing they could, and that apart from the usual international condemnation they have nothing to worry about.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago

This effectively means it’s not safe for airlines to fly over Belarus to reach the Baltic States, limiting flight-paths to over the Baltic or over the Kaliningrad Gap.
Indefinitely banning all flights to/from Belarus would seem the obvious response.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

It would indeed. I would say banning any and all flights across Belarus airspace with immediate effect is appropriate.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

That would seem to be a sensible response as well as restrictions on flights into and out of Belarus as well.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

Probably scare the bejaysus out of many here, but it’s high time Russia and Putin were put in their place once and for all, no matter the cost.

The sort of agg has been building for years, and the west has sat on its hands and done nothing.

Either sort Russia out, or disband NATO, and let everyone and their dog do whatever they please, when they please. Lets face it, the UK are already guilty of running scared after the Salisbury business. That was shocking!

Julian1
Julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

What would you suggest. Perhaps set that gobshite Michael O’Leary on them perhaps?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

No matter the cost? War?

A response needs to be proportionate. Governments leave themselves room to escalate or diffuse as required, not tally ho go in all guns blazing to WW3 because one man was removed from a non NATO civil airliner.

How would you “sort Russia out?” We’d all be dead decades ago if ever minor flash point, no matter how wrong, is met with full force response which only results in more deaths.

Were you the general in Dr Strangelove???

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Agree Daniele, a Clear rational response is what is needed. Maybe something related to the event itself, but it needs to as much as possible make the leaders of Belarus sweat without impact on normal people.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

A proportionate response to an act of war, in seizing land from a nation state. A proportionate response to state sponsored murder, using Nuclear material. A proportionate response to attempted murder, again using Nuclear materials, whilst potentially endangering the lives of others, in a foreign nation state. And now, another proportionate response to hijacking and piracy. The mind truly boggles! I know, how about this time we use harsh, or abrasive language !! “Governments leave themselves room to escalate or diffuse as required, not tally ho go in all guns blazing to WW3 because one man was removed from a… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Proportionate in this case would be banning:- all overflight of Belarusian territory; and all flights emanating from or to Belarus. basically they have broken all the usual treaties on safe passage and sovereignty of the aircraft. Unfortunately this is where the West has to stop and think about its abuse of the terrorist card to justify everything and anything. I know this thought process will be controversial but where goes. What the UK does is seen, internationally to set a bar, usually the top bar. Then every other country uses that to justify being at a slightly lower level than… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Yes, it relates to the event itself and would not be considered to impactful of the general population ( who are in reality mostly to poor to fly).

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Unfortunately if we had responded with military action every time a nationstate did something unsavoury we would be in a permanent state of war ( for instance we would be at war with most of the Nations in the Middle East including every side and religion and just about every nation in Africa as well as Russia and China et al) . The reality is you can only police your own behaviour and security and the wellbeing of our own nation an population comes above everything else. I love our liberal democracy and truly think the world would be a… Read more »

RobW
RobW
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

So what in your book does “sorting Russia out” mean? If it is a military response what is the end goal and how do you stop it escalating into all out conflict?

I’m all for holding them to account but not at the risk of war.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi Daniele, Whilst I agree stumbling into a war is not a good idea I would point out that this aircraft is registered in Poland to a Ryanair subsiduary. I have posted the details of my little rummage around the internet below, but briefly the plane sports a Polish flag in front of registration SP-RWS which is a Polish civil registration. It is a NATO issue, but still not a reason to start a shooting war although I do think we probably need to think about what is an effective proportionate response, as our so called proportionate responses have so… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Afternoon CR. Yes, I’d already noted your posts re Poland, so indeed not a non NATO Ireland issue as I first assumed. While I agree that something is required I fear it just fuels the merry go round further till the next event, so no idea what the answer is. As you say, freezing assets previously does not deter rogue states. Until they attack us war is not inevitable. And Belorussia have not attacked us. Which was my initial point to the poster above who was happy to suggest that no matter the cost it has to stop. If we… Read more »

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

This is obviously nothing less than a state sponsored hijacking. Now, hotheads, this isn’t an act of war but is serious. Full sanctions, no flights in and out is appropriate. Even Putin isn’t impressed with the leader of Belarus!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

He isn’t but Belorussian difficulties during and post election has allowed Putin to control him as his poodle, so who was ultimately behind this is not totally clear. But you can be sure it would not be done without Putin’s support, if not at his instigation to test just how far he can keep pushing especially as he now feels he has China on his flank. At this rate, and if nothing is done to confront matters with western unity the Baltic states will be under serious threat within the decade I fear and who knows who else and then… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Spyinthesky
Jas
Jas
1 month ago

Don’t they realize its only the Americans who are allowed to do this sort of thing.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Jas

Perish the thought. The Americans are more subtle. They use one sided extradition treaties.

James
James
1 month ago

This is piracy taking place above the skies now and not in the seas only anymore . This could encourage none state actors in the future that may use deception to bring a plane down or that have air defense systems

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  James

I’m not sure it is piracy. It happened within their air space and they didn’t raid the plane, when it landed, they just lied to get it emptied.

Scary stuff, but I’m not sure if they broke international law or not.

Going to be interesting to read some of the legal anyalsis of this, as I fear it will now happen again.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi Steve,

I wondered about the airspace issue as well. Techically you raise a valid point, however, I think most people are ignoring the technicalities and seeing this for what it is, a corrupt, repressive, rogue state driving a coach and horses through the rules based international system that has done much to just about keep the lid on, what has always been and is increasingly unstable geopolitical situation.

As for happening again, yup, flying just got a bit more risky, especially over unstable countries.

Cheers CR

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

For sure, not for a moment suggesting it was a valid action, it’s clearly not.

The international community just needs to be careful what it calls it, as we divert planes fairly regularly for policing/anti-terrorist related reasons and we need to be able to continue to do that.

Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
1 month ago

Disgraceful!

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Dreadful news-this coming on top of China’s incendiary threats to Australia today. It seems inevitable that the world is sleepwalking towards the final conflagration. It is of course simplistic to divide the planet into the Good and the Bad but the simple truth is that there are some really bad, nay evil leaders on the world stage. This sinister Lukashenko character then Putin, Kim Yong Un, several prize African dictators to name but a few. The scary thing is that if one ruthless and twisted sociopath is in charge then ‘reason’ is not on the menu. In the case of… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

The trouble is I don’y think Belarus” Government ” gives a damn what we do. The boss man is a corrupt thug who is going to stay in power no matter what and his friend next door to the east is another peace loving individual who probably gave him the idea.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

The Ryanair plane forced to land in Belarus appears to be registered in Poland. At least on photo of the plane landing clearly shows the Polish flag on the side of the aircraft followed be the registration SP-RSW.

A quick search online shows that the registration prefix is Poland’s and the SP-RSW registration is indeed a Ryanair plane, so it would appear that this is a plane registered to a NATO country.

Interesting, eh?

Cheers CR

Cymbeline
Cymbeline
1 month ago

Lots of support coming from various sections of Russian political/media types, about time we treated Russia the same as Belarus and stopped flights into Russia and booted them out of our airspace.

George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago

Rubbish! They were checking if the rumours were true. That RyanAir cheap seats are equipped with pedals.