Commander of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus Igor Golub said that the MiG-29 fighter jet did not force the Ryanair plane to land in Minsk. He said this during a press conference, as Belt reports.
"Objective control data convincingly confirm that there was no interception, forced reversal from the state border and forced landing of the Ryanair aircraft," Golub said.
He said that the MiG-29 fighter, which accompanied the Ryanair board, allegedly had a task to cover Minsk from the act of terrorism.
Roman Protasevich, an opposition activist and journalist who faces charges in Belarus that could bring 15 years in prison, was aboard the Ryanair flight from Athens, Greece, to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius when it changed course between the two EU members to head for Minsk.
Belarusian state news agency BelTA reported that Lukashenko had personally ordered a MiG-29 fighter jet to escort the Ryanair plane to land in Minsk, ostensibly due to a bomb threat. Officials later said no explosives were found on the plane.
Later, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called for swift sanctions after Belarus’s authoritarian ruler forced a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and detained a prominent opposition journalist.
The US and a number of European countries urged to suspend flights over Belarus.