EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell warned this Friday of the risk of mounting tensions with Russia over the aviation problem after Moscow refused permission to change routes with two European airlines to align Belarusian airspace with the avoidance of measures agreed by the 27 to respond to the rerouting of the Ryanair passage.
On the open front with Minsk, which has led the EU to double its measures, Russia’s obstacles are being added by two flights from Air France and Austrian Airlines to divert into the airspace and bypass Belarus.
“Air traffic has been badly affected, but we still do not know whether it is a case-by-case or a general rule of the Russian authorities to force an overflight into Belarus,” said Borrell in a statement in Lisbon ahead of the informal defense meeting about the Episode Minister.
In any case, the High Representative has called for a wait and see how events develop on European flights before considering new measures to respond to the air crisis. Borrell recognized that “there is always a risk of escalation” with Russia, a country with which the EU has accumulated a number of disagreements over the past few months. “It can happen that all air traffic is disrupted,” warned the head of European diplomacy.
Russia’s refusal to approve alternative routes for European flights resulted in the cancellation of two separate flights connecting Paris and Vienna with the Russian capital. However, other companies such as KLM or British Airways were able to land in Russia after updating their routes, so the rejection of the Russian authorities was not generalized.
Moscow has accepted as valid statements by the government of Alexander Lukashenko about the incident on Sunday with a Ryanair plane that covered the route between Athens and Vilnius and, according to Minsk, was distracted by a bomb threat. On board was the opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was arrested at this stop, which demonstrates the political intention of the emergency landing for the EU.