Earlier today, Sunday, a jet fighter from Belarus forced a Ryanair commercial plane flying over the country to redirect to Minsk, the Belarus capital. The commercial flight had departed from Athens, Greece and was en route to Vilnius in Lithuania.
The Belarus regime, surely with the consent of Vladimir Putin, set up the ruse that a bomb was aboard the commercial flight and so needed to land immediately at the closest airport.
But the whole thing was nothing more than a plot to capture 26 y/o Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian activist who had helped set up a Telegram channel with 1.5 million subscribers in his country, so that people could continue protesting the fraudulent reelection of Alexander Lukashenko in 2020.
It is a profound failure of European Union intelligence to not have protected Mr Protasevich, to not have warned him of the possibilities of flying over Belarus.
Officials in the EU have raised their voices in protest and so has Antony Blinken, America’s Secretary of State, who demanded the immediate release of Mr Protasevich, but watch how Putin, emboldened by the manner in which he has handled Alexei Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment, will dance around the issue claiming no knowledge of the affair and state that Lukashenko acted independently in an effort to protect the passengers from the alleged bomb.
And the strong likelihood is that he will get away with it.
Immediate and strong punitive measures are in order, both against Lukashenko and Putin.
The European Union has to step up and see this blatant attack on civil liberties as what it is and not find ways to delay action.
Something about the efficacy of the West’s response against Putin’s transgressions has been fractured since Mr Trump’s election in America.
The cracks continue to widen.
I can hear Putin in his palace saying, ‘here’s to you, Donald. If you could launch an attack on the US Capitol, surely I can snatch a dissident from the skies. Good luck in the midterms. And count on me for the next election.’
Will the European Union muster the courage to stand up to Putin?
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net