Belarus is the target of international criticism following a weekend incident where it forced a commercial jet to land and arrested a dissident journalist.  

“These are clearly unacceptable tactics and a behavior that stands in clear opposition to international norms,” according to Virginia Tech political scientist Besnik Pula.  “It is unprecedented, especially for air travel within Europe, for civilian aircraft to be forcefully diverted by governments in order to arrest political dissidents. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”

The brazen incident, which some are calling a ‘state-sponsored hijacking’ now awaits the international response.

“The European Union (EU) seems prepared to impose further sanctions to further isolate the Belarusian regime, including banning its domestic airliner from flying to EU countries,” said Pula. “However, the Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has clearly dug his heels and has shown himself to be unwilling to bow down to any international pressure against his regime.”

“There are also strong indications that the most recent operation had the green light, and possibly logistical support from Moscow, Belarus’s closest ally. Moscow was quick to support the arrest and criticize Western condemnation of the event. This is sure to further complicate relations between Washington and Moscow,” said Pula.

Besnik Pula

Professor Pula teaches and has written extensively on the comparative political economy of the states of Central and Eastern Europe. He is affiliated faculty in Government and International Affairs (GIA) at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs.

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