On May 26, 2021, the Belavia flight BRU869 from Minsk (MSQ) to Barcelona (BCN) had to turn back near the Polish border.

The flight was being carried out by the Embraer E195LR, registration EW-400PO, famous for its special livery celebrating the Belarusian game “World of Tanks.” The Polish Civil Aviation Agency said the Belavia aircraft was not allowed into the airspace of Poland because France, lying further along the route, prohibited it from flying, according to RIA Novosti. The aircraft entered a holding pattern above the city of Brest and Baranovichi to burn enough fuel for a safe landing, before turning back towards Minsk where it landed. 

In the late evening of May 24, 2021, the 27 member states of the European Union asked their airlines to avoid the overflight of Belarus following the arrest of journalist Roman Protassevich and his partner Sofia Sapega a day before. 

They also agreed to deny access to their airspace to the Belarusian state-owned airline Belavia. The latter operates around 20 flights every day from or to 35 EU airports.

Until now, the measure had not been enforced. In fact, minutes before BRU869 was rejected, another Belavia flight (BRU868) from Amsterdam (AMS) to Minsk crossed the Polish airspace without any problem.

Earlier on May 26, 2021, Alexander Lukashenko addressed the matter for the first time and defended the decision to divert Ryanair flight FR4978, which led to the arrest of Protassevich.

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Following the outrage over the diversion of a Ryanair flight, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said he “acted legally” to counter a bomb threat.