Kyiv-Minsk relations: Air scandal between Belarus and Ukraine gains traction

14:19 Nov. 1, 2016

Air scandal between Belarus and Ukraine gains traction

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Belarus allegedly confirms Ukraine's threats to scramble interceptors. SBU denies its involvement.

Belarusian media outlets have published a readout of the conversation between the pilots of a passenger airplane, flying from Kyiv to Minsk with 136 people on board, and an air traffic controller in the Ukrainian capital.

On October 21 Kyiv ordered the airplane, which had already taken off and was on its way to Belarus, to turn back.

The Belarusian side claimed the traffic controller had said interceptors would be scrambled if the pilots disobeyed the order. Ukrainian SBU security service denied the allegations.

Read also: Row over returning Belavia jet: experts assess situation

The readout, published by Belarus Today news agency, reportedly confirms the version of the Belarusian side, although no audio confirmation has been provided as of yet. (source in Russian) 

‘Belavia-840, an order just came in: you must turn back to the Zhuliany airport. If you do not comply, military aviation will be scrambled for interception', the controller allegedly said, later stating  the order for the plane to turn back was given by ‘the military commandment'.

Read also: Belarus wants apologies from Ukraine over plane

A representative of the SBU, in turn, said in a statement that the institution hadn't threatened to use the jets.

‘We emphasize yet again, we didn't give any instructions on the scrambling of the interceptors, didn't hold any dialogues with the pilots, and only asked to return the plane', the SBU spokeswoman Olena Gitlianska said in an interview with UNIAN.

As it turned out after the incident, the airplane was forced to come back, due to a foreign citizen on board who allegedly ‘posed a threat to Ukraine's national security'.

The man reportedly was Armen Martirosyan, known for his anti-Maidan statements.

Belarus demanded former apologies and compensation from Ukraine.

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