25 May 2021

European Union considering sanctions against Belarus

From Morning Report, 6:40 am on 25 May 2021

EU leaders are meeting to consider sanctions against Belarus following the interception of a Ryanair flight bound for neighbouring Lithuania which was intercepted on the orders of president Alexander Lukashenko.

The plane was forced to land in Minsk - where the prominent journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner who were onbaord were seized by authorities.

The action has been described as a state highjacking or an act of state terrorism by various European leaders.

Germany said it could not remain without a clear consequence, while the French have called for a fair and unified response.

Lithuania has banned planes from flying through Belarus before landing on its soil and wants other countries to follow suit.

The Lithuania foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told the BBC his country's government remains shocked, more than 24 hours after the incident.

The chief executive of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, condemned the actions in an interview with independent Irish radio station News Talk.

European correspondent Thomas Sparrow spoke to Susie Ferguson.