If anyone thought that war of heaven between the European Union and Alexander Lukashenko for the hijacking of the Ryanair plane this weekend to stop a journalist uncomfortable for the Belarusian regime was going to stay there, it has taken 72 hours to realize that the matter has escalated to the Kremlin .
This Thursday the Russian authorities have refused to authorize the plans of two separate Austrian Airlines and Air France flights to Moscow to avoid Belarusian airspace on their route. One was scheduled to take off from Vienna and the other from Paris, but both have remained on the ground. The Russian refusal comes after this Monday night the heads of state and government of the European Union decided to respond to the Belarusian regime for intercepting a community flight – from an Irish airline that flew between two EU capitals, Athens and Vilnus -.RELATED
EU leaders, at the European Council held in Brussels, also agreed on sanctions against Belarus, which have yet to be finalized by the 27, but which will go through expanding the list of people and companies on which to apply restrictions to the movements, including economic ones. Is your answer the hijacking of a Ryanair flight to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has acknowledged in Lisbon, after the informal meeting of the Foreign Minister, that the extension of the list of sanctioned persons will be approved shortly. “The European Council, the leaders, agreed on a new package of personal sanctions, which is being done, and also called for economic sanctions. The informal council this Thursday cannot make decisions, debate and provide lines of work, and the package of Personal sanctions is almost ready and it is not necessary to wait for another Foreign Council to be approved, it can be approved by written procedure beforehand. In addition, there are economic sanctions, some ideas have been put on the table, nothing has been decided, but the work at a technical level is being developed and the states will propose ideas. In addition, to adopt our regulations for economic sanctions, we have to adapt the legal framework and it takes a little more time. “
“A change in flight routes must be approved by the authorities. The Russian authorities did not give us this permission,” Austrian Airlines said in a statement to AFP. The Austrian Ministry of Transport confirmed that the flight had been canceled: “According to our information, the Russian authorities did not approve a change in the flight route.”
The Russian Transport Ministry, for its part, responded to AFP that it “had no comment for now.”
However, several other European airlines, including KLM and British Airways, have been able to land in Russia using new flight routes, Financial Times reports.
The G7 Foreign Ministers – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States – and the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, condemned this Thursday “in the strongest terms the unprecedented action by the Belarusian authorities by arresting an independent journalist, Raman Pratasevich, and his partner, Sofia Sopega, after forcing flight FR4978 on which they were traveling to land in Minsk on May 23. “
According to a released statement, the ministers consider that “this action endangered the safety of the passengers and the flight crew. It also represented a serious attack on the rules that govern civil aviation. All of our countries and our citizens depend on each State to act responsibly in fulfilling its duties so that civil aircraft can operate safely. We call on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to urgently address this challenge to its rules. This action also represents a serious attack on press freedom. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich, as well as all other journalists and political prisoners detained in Belarus. “
EU heads of state and government also agreed on Monday to condemn Russia’s “illegal, provocative and disruptive activities against the EU, its member states and beyond.” In addition, they have “reaffirmed the unity and solidarity of the EU in the face of such acts and support their allies in the East.”
Thus, the European Council “expresses its solidarity with the Czech Republic” and “reaffirms its commitments to the five principles of its policy with Russia” and “invites the High Representative and the European Commission to present a report with options on EU-relations relations. Russia in line with those principles and with a view to its June 2021 summit. “
From here, and with the Belarusian conflict going through relations with Moscow, the 27 will address the future of relations with Russia at the June 24 and 25 summit, at a time when Vladimir Putin is increasingly moving away from the EU because of the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalni and his presence in Ukraine.