On May 23rd Alexander Lukashenko, who has served as the President of Belarus since 1994, ordered the forced landing of a European civilian airliner traveling from Athens to Vilnius in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, due to an alleged security threat in his country’s airspace. The real objective, however, was to detain a Belarusian political journalist, Raman Pratasevich, and his partner, Sofia Sapega.
European leaders and U.S. President Joe Biden have condemned the forceful diversion of the plane, the threat to more than 170 passengers and crew on board, and the detention of Lukashenko’s political opponent. In response, the European Union has called for the blockade of the Belarusian airspace and a boycott of the Belarusian airlines Belavia. It is preparing a fourth round of sanctions against Belarus.
On May 27, the ACG hosted a discussion about how the West should respond to this unprecedented event and Lukashenko’s brazen disregard for the rule of law with Dr. Joerg Forbrig, Senior Fellow and Director for Central and Eastern Europe at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Katsiaryna Shmatsina, Fellow at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies