EU to ban Belarusian airlines after Belarus hijacks Ryanair plane

  • Belarusian airlines to be barred from carrying out flights to EU airports
  • Belarussian carriers to be banned from flying in EU airspace
  • European airlines advised to suspend all flights in Belarusian airspace

European Union leaders decided at the summit on Monday to ban Belarusian airlines from carrying out flights to EU airports and flying in EU airspace after the Belarussian state-sponsored hijacking of the Ryanair flight over Belarus, that was forced to land in Minsk.

“This act of state piracy cannot go unpunished,” Clement Beaune, France’s Minister of State for European Affairs, said on Monday. “We will continue imposing sanctions to primarily ensure the security of our own citizens,” Beaune vowed.

European airlines were also advised to suspend all flights in Belarusian airspace.

The summit “calls on all EU-based carriers to avoid overflight of Belarus; calls on the Council to adopt the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines,” according to the statement.

This decision does not go into effect yet and needs to be approved by the Council at the ministerial level.

The United States has also resolutely condemned the hijacking the Ryanair flight in the airspace over Belarus on Sunday and demanded an immediate release of Roman Protasevich, who was detained after a forced landing of the aircraft in Minsk, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States strongly condemns the forced diversion of a flight between two EU member states and the subsequent removal and arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich in Minsk,” Blinken stated. “We demand his immediate release.”

“This shocking act perpetrated by the [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens,” the US state official said.