The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), has punished Belarus for its president’s decision last week to order a military jet to hijack a RyanAir flight heading to Lithuania so it can arrest political dissident and journalist, Roman Protasevich.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that personnel at Belarus’ diplomatic mission to NATO will have their access restricted at the alliance’s headquarters.
Belarus is not a member of NATO but has had ties with the military alliance since 1992 following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Since then Belarus has maintained a diplomatic mission to NATO since 1998.
Belarusian personnel can attend seminars and meetings at NATO and in NATO countries as part of a cooperation partnership that tackles issues such as arms control and military education.
But that access has now been halted by NATO following the RyanAir hijacking.
“We have decided to restrict the access of Belarusian personnel to the NATO headquarters,” Stoltenberg told a news conference on Monday, May 31, ahead of meetings of NATO defence and foreign ministers on Tuesday.
NATO also plans to give more sanctions to Belarus.
Protasevich has been a critic of Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko (pictured below).
When asked about new Russian military formations and units, intended to be deployed close to the alliance’s borders, Stoltenberg said NATO would continue to seek dialogue with Moscow, while also exercising troops for defensive purposes.
“It is important to manage difficult relationship with Russia with transparency on military activities, risk reduction and also for instance related issues like arms control,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
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