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An icy war Lukashenko’s first public remarks about the Ryanair plane diversion, in a nutshell

Source: Meduza
Maxim Guchek / BelTA / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA

In his first public remarks about the Ryanair flight that was forced to land in Minsk earlier this week, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) said that the warning message about the alleged bomb planted on board the plane came from Switzerland, the state news agency BelTA reported. Speaking at a meeting with parliamentarians in Minsk on May 26, Lukashenko insisted that he acted “legally” and primarily focused on how Belarus’s “ill-wishers” are “attacking the state.” Here’s what he said, in a nutshell.

The message about the bomb on board the plane came from Switzerland. How should we have acted against the backdrop of a cascade of “bomb threats” from IP addresses in Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. We brought the information about the bomb threat to the attention of the crew, they had time to make a decision. Hamas or no Hamas, it doesn’t matter. Neither Vilnius, nor Warsaw, nor Kyiv, nor Lviv wanted to accept the flight. The plane turned around near the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP), if there really had been a bomb, what would we have done? The fighter jet was sent up in keeping with all regulations. I thought about the safety of the country, I couldn’t allow the plane to fall on the heads of our people. There was a terrorist on the plane who was going to start a bloody rebellion and this was known far beyond the borders of Belarus. What country’s intelligence services did he and his accomplice work for? “They have moved from organizing riots to strangling tactics. They’re looking for new vulnerable spots, and they’re targeting not only us. We are a testing site for them before they move East.” I acted legally and will continue to do so. But carbon-copy accusations from the West began pouring in before the plane even had time to land. The goal is clear. We know who benefits from demonizing Belarus. We’ve found ourselves at the forefront of a new conflict, not a cold war, but an icy one. “Our ill-wishers from the outside and from within have changed their methods of attacking the state. They’ve crossed many red lines.” We have to do everything to prevent this from turning into a hot war. If you don’t like flying over Belarus, go fly where 300 people were killed. 

This is a paraphrased summary of Alexander Lukashenko’s speech, based on reports from the Belarusian state news agency BelTA and ATN News. Phrases written in the first person aren’t necessarily verbatim quotes.

Summary by Grigory Levchenko

Translated and edited by Eilish Hart

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