Ukraine bans flights to and from Belarus

The Ukrainian government approved a decision during an extraordinary meeting to ban the use of Ukrainian airspace by aircraft registered in Belarus, reported the press service of the Ukrainian government.

The ban will come into effect on May 29, 12:00 am Kyiv time . According to the statement, this decision was made after the incident with the Ryanair fight, which occurred on May 23.

"In order to ensure the safety of flights and passengers, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the State Aviation Service, together with the state-owned enterprise Ukrainerukh was instructed to enforce a corresponding restriction," the statement reads.

On May 26, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine had stopped air flights to and from Belarus. In addition to banning Ukrainian airlines from flying in the Belarusian airspace, the customs at Ukrainian airports also stopped registration of passengers coming from Belarus or going to Belarus. All flights from Ukraine are now bypassing the Belarusian airspace.

The European Union advised its airlines not to fly over the territory of Belarus, after Minsk diverted the Ryanair flight to arrest the founder of NEXTA, Roman Protasevich.

More than 12 airlines, including KLM, Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways, have refused to fly over Belarus.

The incident with the Ryanair plane, which was flying from Athens to Vilnius, occurred on the afternoon of May 23. The Minsk airport authorities claim the airliner requested a landing because of a bomb report. The airline said that the crew received information about an explosive device on board from the Belarusian air traffic controllers, who gave instructions to land the plane in Minsk. A  MiG-29 fighter aircraft of the Belarusian Air Force was sent to escort the passenger plane.

The Ryanair plane was at the Minsk airport for more than five hours, but during this time no dangerous objects were found on board. However, the Belarusian security forces removed Roman Protasevich, the former editor-in-chief of the Telegram channel Nexta, from the flight. Nexta actively covered rallies in Belarus after the presidential elections, which were held last August. Three criminal cases related to mass riots have been opened against the journalist in Belarus.

  Ryanair, Protasevich, Ukraine, Belarus