There is little doubt that the forced landing of this plane by Belarus, with the clear intention to arrest Protasevich, is illegal under numerous conventions and treaties governing air space. Any forced landing of a jet carries dangers, and safe international air travel would be impossible if countries could force planes flying with permission over their air space to land in order to seize passengers who might be on board. This act by Belarus merits all the condemnation it is receiving.
Yet news accounts in the West which are depicting this incident as some sort of unprecedented assault on legal conventions governing air travel and basic decency observed by law-abiding nations are whitewashing history. Attempts from U.S. officials such as Blinken and E.U. bureaucrats in Brussels to cast the Belarusians’ behavior as some sort of rogue deviation unthinkable for any law-respecting democracy are particularly galling and deceitful.
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