Pirates of the Skies


Image courtesy of Mikhail Klimentyev.

Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, responsible for the grounding of the Ryanair jet.

Jack Kelleher, Contributing Writer

The European Union is outraged at the forced landing of a Irish Ryanair flight to the Belarussian capital of Minsk. The jet, which was flying from Athens to Lithuania, was warned of a bomb threat as it entered Belarussian airspace and was then met with a fighter jet which then escorted the jet to the airport where the passengers were unloaded. The jet was taken down on the orders of the dictator of the country Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled since the fall of the Soviet Union. This act of piracy has greatly increased tensions between Belarus and the West, which possible sanctions and other diplomatic reactions on the horizon.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus has resisted democracy, instead sticking to an authoritarian regime under Alexander Lukashenko. However, this regime was challenged after fraudulent elections in 2020 sparked large scale protests against Lukashenko. Since the protests, Lukashenko has cracked down hard on his opposition, which is what prompted him to personally order the flight to be taken down, ignoring the outrage it would cause.

Junior Anthony Longo is worried about the situation, stating “It was an untimely move that could have negative implications in European foreign relations. A negative elixir trade, if you will.” The metaphor Anthony uses refers to the popular mobile game Clash Royale, and means a situation in which you needlessly do something bad. 

Continuing into the week, the EU and US have brought down negative consequences upon Belarus for this act of state piracy. All European passenger flights have stopped using Belarussian airspace, and there is of sanction form the EU. The US announced on Friday that it will reimpose some sanctions upon Belarus. When asked about the sanctions, Junior Colin Barry responded “Yeah, they should have been punished for what they did. You can’t just call in a random bomb threat onto a plane to arrest somebody.” Colin refers to the bomb threat called in, which according to Belarus was from Swiss authorities. However, the Swiss authorities have denied any such claims.

The grounding of the jet is just one event in a rocky dictatorship under Lukashenko, and it will not be the last. As he continues to grip onto his power, there will no doubt be more classes with his opposition and with the West, and hopefully they stay non-violent.