Friday, May 28, 2021
EU sanctions and flight blockade
Lukashenko travels to meet Putin
The Belarusian head of state Lukashenko wants to discuss the great diplomatic tensions with the EU and the USA at a meeting with Russian President Putin. Sanctions complicate the economic situation in Belarus. The country is asking for support from its ally in the Kremlin.
Under the pressure of the EU sanctions and the growing confrontation with the West, the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko is traveling today to a meeting with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. In Sochi on the Black Sea, questions about the further bilateral development of both countries should be at stake, the Kremlin announced. It is the third meeting of the two politicians this year.
Lukashenko wants, as he said, to speak to Putin about the consequences of the EU and US sanctions that are causing economic problems for Belarus. Minsk is already in the chalk with Moscow with billions. Regardless of the growing costs for Russia, Putin had recently repeatedly emphasized that he would continue to support Lukashenko. Belarus is economically dependent on Russia’s drip. Lukashenko is also politically dependent on Moscow.
The confrontation between Belarus and the West recently came to a head when Lukashenko had a Ryanair passenger plane brought to the ground on Sunday to arrest one of his opponents. The opposition activist and blogger Roman Protassevich was arrested after the forced landing. His girlfriend Sofia Sapega, who is a Russian citizen, was arrested with him.
Four days after his arrest, Protassevich was allowed to see his lawyer Inessa Olenskaya. “Everything is good, he is in good spirits, positive and happy,” Olenskaya told the independent Belapan news agency on Thursday evening. For reasons of secrecy, she could not say more.
“Act of air piracy”
SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz expressed the expectation that Putin would campaign for the release of Roman Protassewitsch. “My expectation of the Kremlin before the meeting with the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is clear: Moscow must not ignore this monstrous act of air piracy,” Scholz told the newspapers of the Funke media group. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West against “demonizing” Belarus.
On the eve of the talks, the Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko asked for help from Russia for his country from Lukashenko and Putin. “In such a situation we count on the support of a close ally,” said Golovchenko at a meeting with his Russian colleague Mikhail Mishustin. Mischustin, in turn, promised to expand air traffic between the two countries again – provided the Corona situation allows.
The EU had decided not to allow Belarusian airlines to take offs or landings or to overflights. Several European countries had already issued bans since the beginning of the week. In return, the state-owned Belarusian airline Belavia suspended all flights to Germany and six other EU countries. In the coming weeks it will be decided which companies or branches of industry in Belarus should be affected by EU sanctions.