The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has reacted to the note of protest issued by the Belarus embassy in Kyiv, and explained the reason behind the move to suspend air traffic with this country.
Oleg Nikolenko, a press secretary for MFA Ukraine, told UNIAN "it is not Ukraine that creates problems in relations with Belarus, but on the contrary, the destructive policy of the Belarusian authorities, which violates basic human rights, goes for repressions of its own and foreign citizens, while depriving the country of its sovereignty in favor of Russia."
"The suspension of air traffic with Belarus has become a forced, but extremely necessary step. Its goal is to guarantee safety and protection of Ukrainian citizens," Nikolenko stressed.
Read alsoZelensky orders halt to air traffic with BelarusThe speaker added that following Ukraine's footsteps, a number of other countries have taken similar steps for security reasons. He also drew attention to the fact that the European air carriers started redirecting their flights to avoid the Belarusian airspace.
"The forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk under a far-fetched pretext, an actual hostage-taking of the passengers of a civilian flight and the insidious arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich proved the absence of red lines and the unpredictability of further actions by the Belarusian authorities. That is why the Belarusian embassy should appeal not to Ukraine, but to the authorities of their own country, whose policy has become threatening to the rest of the world," Nikolenko stressed.
- The Embassy of the Republic of Belarus has sent a note of protest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine over the decision to terminate air traffic.
- The note says the Belarusian side was "surprised at the Ukrainian side's decision to terminate air traffic between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus over an aircraft incident that has nothing to do with Ukraine."
- Earlier, Ukraine said it is to halt air traffic with Belarus from 00:00 Kyiv time on May 26, 2021. What is more, Ukrainian airlines and aircraft will not be allowed to fly in Belarusian airspace.
- The decision comes after Belarus scrambled a MiG-29 fighter jet to force a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk. The Athens-Vilnius flight was carrying Roman Protasevich, a co-founder of the NEXTA Telegram channel known for covering protests in Belarus.
- The plane was diverted to Minsk at the command of Belarusian air traffic controllers over an alleged bomb threat, despite the fact that the distance to Vilnius was much shorter. After the plane landed, Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend were detained.
- Protasevich faces the death penalty in Belarus on terrorism charges.
- The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will probe the circumstances of the incident.