On Thursday, Russia blocked at least two European airliner companies, including Australian Airlines, from landing in Moscow because they announced to avoid Belarusian airspace, indicates that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President is mounting protection of the former Soviet Union state following its shameless arrest of an opposition journalist aboard a Ryanair flight earlier this week.
Breaking: Russia refused to allow today’s Air France flight from Paris to Moscow to fly into Russian airspace because the flight would have avoided Belarus airspace (— a new escalation in an aviation political war between Europe and Belarus. #Belarus) pic.twitter.com/VQPQxYAjPN
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) May 26, 2021
Australian Airlines officially confirmed the news that Russia denied granting approval for a planned flight from Vienna to land in Moscow because of the latest measures European Union nations imposed to isolate Minsk, forcing them to reverse the decision.
Spokeswoman Yvonne Wachholder wrote in an email that based on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s recommendation; Australian Airlines decided to suspend flights through Belarusian airspace until any future notice. So, adjustments to the flight path from Vienna to Moscow are compulsory. Furthermore, a change in the routes of flight must be approved by the officials. Due to the no approval from the Russian authorities, Australian Airlines had to cancel that day’s flight from Vienna to Moscow.
Moscow also imposed Similar Punitive Measures on Air France
Air France also faces similar disciplinary measures from Moscow. A spokesperson tells CNN that Air France confirmed that it had to suspend flight AF1154 from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Moscow by Boeing B787 on 26th May 2021 for operational issues linked to the avoiding of Belarusian airspace, requiring a new approval from the Russian government to enter their land.
Air France postponed the flight to 27th May, and staff assisted the passengers at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The airliner regrets the inconveniences because of the situation. Analysts believe the move mainly aimed at discouraging European countries, which through the European Union imposed swift and rare combined condemnation of Belarus, including recent orders to bypass its airspace and the consideration of new sanctions against it.
The former top Russia adviser in the White House’s National Security Council during the Trump government and the present senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Tim Morrison, says that Russia wants to establish constituencies to reject these EU sanctions. Furthermore, the deputy director for the Warsaw-based Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue & Understanding, Lukasz Adamski, tweeted that the Russian government is hitting the weaker links in the chain of European Union solidarity, hoping that it will lead to a breach.
Wczoraj @AirFranceFR, dziś @_austrian nie dostały pozwolenia na lot do Rosji. Kreml wybiera linie lotnicze z tych państw, gdzie istnieje silne prorosyjskie lobby polityczne i gospodarcze. Uderza w co słabsze ogniwa łańcucha solidarności państw UE, licząc, że doprowadzi do wyłomu. https://t.co/xxYnQ6OnYl
— Łukasz Adamski (@LukaszAdamskiPL) May 27, 2021
Why Is This Happening?
The security officials arrested Roman Protasevich, twenty-six, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, twenty-three, an international law student. Last year the agencies put the name of Protasevich on the Belarus terrorist list and charged him with serious charges. For the first time on Thursday, he was able to see his lawyer. Inesa Alenskaya said that all is well, Protasevich is cheerful, positive, and there is nothing to worry about.
The foreign minister of Russia says that the security agencies accused Sapega of breaking Belarusian law in August and September of 2020. However, it is not clear what these crimes are. Videos released showed that couple confessing to crimes, but it is possible they were speaking under pressure. Moreover, the forced landing of the passenger aircraft and their arrest caused international crime.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations agreed to investigate the grounding of the plane. In a tweet, U.S. Mission to the U.N. strongly condemned the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich along with his girlfriend.
We strongly condemn the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega. We call on @ICAO to urgently investigate this unacceptable incident and for full accountability for those responsible. pic.twitter.com/1oPS9aV5Nw
— U.S. Mission to the UN (@USUN) May 26, 2021