The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on Wednesday justified the forced landing that took place in Minsk on Sunday of a Ryanair flight that covered the route between Athens and Vilnius. The president has assured that his intention was to avoid “a small Chernobyl” that would involve the 123 passengers “threatened” on board the plane. “Any other sovereign country would have done it, like the United States.”
“What should we have done? We responded adequately to the information received,” he said before highlighting that the bomb alert came from Switzerland and that it was received at the same time by the airports of Athens, Vilna and Minsk.
“The Belarusian side quickly brought the information to the plane’s crew in accordance with international standards. Because at that time the plane crossed the Belarusian border and was in our airspace,” he explained.
Police officers inspect suitcases next to the Ryanair plane in which the journalist Roman Protasevich was traveling, at the Minsk airport, Belarus, where the aircraft forced by the Belarusian authorities landed.
Protasevich, Lukashenko and the EU: the keys to the “hijacking” of a plane in Belarus to arrest a journalist.
Lukashenko has defended that, “in accordance with his official duties” his obligation was to “protect the people on board”: “he thought about the security of my country. ” If the plane had been hijacked and the terrorists wanted to destroy it, he could not allow it to fall on the heads of our people, “he said.” I acted legally, protecting my people. This will continue to be the case in the future, “he insisted.
According to the news portal sb.by , the president has justified the arrest of his opponent, the journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, arguing that ” he and his accomplices planned to organize a massacre and a bloody rebellion.”
A ‘Hybrid Modern War’ against Belarus
Following the NATO statements , Lukashenko has accused the international community of crossing “many red lines” and the “limits of common sense and human morality.”
“As we predicted, the wicked outside and inside the country have changed the methods of attacking the state. (…) This is no longer an information war, this is a modern hybrid war . Everything possible must be done to that it does not go any further, “said the president, according to information from the BelTA news agency.
The European Union closes its airspace with Belarus after the forced landing by Minsk to arrest a journalist
In this sense, he has accused his detractors of going from “organizing revolts” to the phase of “strangulation” of the State. These have been his first words after the international community took action for the forced landing of the flight.
“This is aimed not only at us: we are a testing ground for them … After testing with us, they will go there,” he said in relation to Russia and other countries in the area.
The Belarusian president has thus stressed the importance of “preserving the country to pass it on to the next generations in a normal state.” “Time has chosen us . We are at the forefront of a new war , not cold, but already frozen,” he said.
“The state will not succumb to pressure. To the entire world community: There is no point in shaking Belarus!”,
The objective, he has detailed, is “to demonize Belarus.” “We are a small country, but we will respond appropriately … Before making sudden and hasty movements, remember that Belarus is the center of Europe,” he warned in reference to a possible new world war.
“Hardness” in the face of the new sanctions
Lukashenko has thus threatened to take “tough” measures in the face of new provocations from the West. “We will react harshly to all kinds of sanctions, attacks and provocations , but not because we want to put up a fight in the center of the continent, but because the West leaves us no choice,” he justified.
“We will already compensate for the sanctions with active actions in other markets, we will replace Europe, which is aging inevitably, with Asia growing impetuously,” he added. “Psychologically our society is prepared to be a new Eurasia, to be its outpost,” he clarified in relation to the reprisals taken by various countries in the face of the forced landing of the plane.
Russia sees no reason to distrust
For their part, the Russian authorities have stressed that they do not see “reasons” to distrust the Belarusian version of the events. The Kremlin spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, has thus indicated that Belarus, “from what is understood, did not land the plane on its own initiative, but was guided by the corresponding rules in case of receiving a threat.”
In this sense, he pointed out that European states have not shown their “desire to understand what had happened “: “they have only chosen to act crudely.”
The EU, the United States and other countries have already condemned in strong terms the diversion of the plane and its forced landing and have demanded that Belarus release the detainees.