Arkivfoto.

After Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair flight to land in Minsk to arrest a passenger, Ukraine is halting flights to and from Belarus.

Yesterday, a Ryanair flight going from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania was forced to emergency land in Minsk, Belarus. Onboard the flight was a Belarusian national, who was arrested in the airport.

According to Belarus, the plane had to land in Minsk because a threat of an explosive device on the flight. That does not line up very well with the explanation provided by Ryanair and the fact that the flight was very close to its destination, Vilnius, when it rerouted to Minsk.

Because of the arrest of the Belarusian national, Raman Pratasevich, who was in exile outside of Belarus, and Ryanair calling the whole thing “piracy,” there is a general consensus that the plane was forced to land in Minsk, so Belarus could arrest Pratasevich.

Ban on flights

The consequences of this action are slowly starting to hit Belarus. Earlier today Lithuania banned flights through Belarusian air space, and now, Ukraine follows with a stop to all air traffic to and from Belarus, Unian writes.

“Taking the latest developments into account, the president instructed the government to work out a decision to terminate direct flights between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus and to close the Belarusian airspace for Ukraine’s outbound and inbound flights,” the report says.

A lot of Belarusians have been flooding into Ukraine since the protests started. They will not be able to do that directly right now. For Ukrainians, visiting Minsk is obviously out of the question, but Belavia – the Belarusian airline company – was one of the few stable connections from Kyiv to Moscow.

The route had a layover in Minsk, which has now been made impossible. There are still carriers, that will take Ukrainians and people living in Ukraine to Russia, of course, but this might change the plans of a lot of people.