BRUSSELS: European countries moved to isolate Belarus on Monday by cutting air ties after it provoked an international outcry by forcing a commercial airliner to land so it could arrest an opposition activist.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels eyed proposals to stop Belarus’ state airline flying to the bloc and prevent European carriers from using the country’s airspace, after several nations started closing air routes.
The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was diverted while in Belarusian airspace on Sunday over a supposed bomb threat.
Accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet — on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko — the plane landed in the capital Minsk. There, 26-year-old Protasevich, who had been living between Lithuania and Poland, was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega.