Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 27, 2022

ICAO Report - Ryanair Plane That Landed in Minsk Was NOT Forced Down

On May 23 2021 anonymous emails were sent to several airports warning that a Ryanair passenger plane on its way from Athens to Vilnius had a bomb on board.

The plane was crossing the airspace of Belarus when it was informed of the bomb threat by the Belarusian air controller. The air controller recommended to land the plane in Minsk. After some back and force to gain more information the pilot declared an emergency and decided to land in Minsk.

After the plane had landed the passengers de-boarded, were searched and went into the airport building and through passport control. Two of them, Roman Protasevich and his girl friend Sofia Sapega, had outstanding arrest warrants against them. They were part of a group which had previously attempted to launch a color revolution in Minsk. The two were arrested.

The plane and all luggage was searched but no bomb was found. The passengers, except the two arrested and three who had Minsk as their final destination, boarded again and safely reached their destination.

The case led to accusations that the Belarusian security forces had created the threat against the plane and had forced it to land for the purposes of arresting the two people. There is however no evidence for that. Despite that several countries sanctioned Belarus and its national air carrier Belavia.

Belarus had asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to investigate the Ryanair incident. A preliminary report is now out and discussed below.

Moon of Alabama had followed the case in detail (The June 2 piece is probably the best one to catch up with the case):

The ICAO report was recently finished and given to all members. had gained access to it and published it. The official results will be discussed with ICAO members at the end of this months.

The president of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko seems to be happy about the report:

According to the head of state, the ICAO admitted that there was no interception, forced landing or rerouting of Ryanair aircraft by Belarus. The president called the ICAO investigators heroic people: “They deserve some praise. Despite all the pressure (this is a UN organization and you know that we are on our own there) they had to admit that Lukashenko did not open fire at the aircraft, did not scramble a MiG fighter jet to force it to land. They are heroes by just stating these facts.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, this fact itself is already important for Belarus. The country does not expect anything more from the investigation for the time being. "If they are willing to prove otherwise, then they should present evidence. There is no evidence, and we see this. Now all ICAO member countries see this. You know who's calling the shots there. The best thing for them is to soft-pedal this thing, not to go any farther. Because the farther it goes, the messier it gets. Therefore, they'd better not do it. Nothing good will come out of this," the head of state emphasized.

Most important is that the false claim about a military fighter jet making the Ryanair plane land has been fully debunked:

When commenting on the report, Director of the Aviation Department of the Belarusian Transport and Communications Ministry Artyom Sikorsky said that the fact-finding team admitted the evidence proving that Belarus did not intercept, force to land or reroute the flight by using a MiG-29 military jet. The ICAO fact-finding team noted that there were no visual signals from the flight and cabin crew and that there was no communication with the aircraft. This is the proof that there was no interception by the MiG-29.

According to him, the document emphasizes another important point which Belarus previously drew attention to. “The data of the aircraft crew conversations in the cockpit was not saved as the crew did not turn off the recorders after landing in Minsk. Thus, the crew did not save the data, including the moment when they were making the decision to land in Minsk. It looks strange,” Artyom Sikorsky stressed.

The opposition news site mentions the report but has obviously not read it as it still claims that the plane was 'forced to land'.

I have read the report and can confirm that it makes no claims against Belarus and also leaves no basis for such claims.

But I also found some curiosities in it.

The report says that the pilot did not contact his airline before making the decision to land in Minsk. This is contradicted by the transcript of the radio traffic between the pilot and the Air Traffic Controller:

Pilot: 09:34:49: Radar, RYR 1TZ.
Pilot: Could you give us frequency for (unreadable) company so that we would be able to (unreadable).
ATC: RYR 1TZ say again what frequency do you need.
Pilot: We just need to quawk with the operation of the company, if there any frequency for that (unreadable).
ATC. Do you need RYR operation frequency?
Pilot: That is correct 1TZ.
ATC: Standby please.
Pilot: 09:39:30: RYR 1TZ Any adverts?
ATC: RYR 1TZ Standby, waiting for the information.
ATC: 09.42.49: RYR 1TZ we have ground stuff frequency for Vilnius 131.750
Pilot: 131.75 and we have contact...(unreadable).

It is also contradicted by a report from the Lithuanian police:

Those questioned include the captain of the aircraft who "made the decision [to change course to Minsk] after consulting Ryanair's management", according to [Rolandas Kiškis, head of the Criminal Police Bureau].

There was a lot of confusion about the time when the bomb threat email had arrived at Minsk airport. Belarus says it received two emails about half an hour apart.

A shady organization in London, financed by the former Russian oligarch and tax evader Mikhail Khodorkovski, had claimed that Minsk had only received the second email which arrived after the plane was diverted. It claims that Belarus must therefore have faked the bomb threat. This seems to be supported by Protonmail, a Swiss provider for anonymous email services, through which the threat emails were sent. But my discussion with Protonmail lets me doubt that the claims as made are truthful.

ICAO had asked Belarus about metadata that could have proven that the first email arrived in Minsk at the time Minsk claims it arrived. However the old log files of the receiving mail server had long been overwritten by routine procedures. (Such routines are very common for such servers. I have programmed a number of these.) The only things Minsk could show to ICAO were screenshots of both threat emails it had received.

ICAO has however never talked with Protonmail or checked their log-files. It only refers to claims from Protonmail that it had received through the government of Lithuania which had received it through officials in Switzerland. Lithuania is not a friend of Belarus but supports the opposition. The ICAO should have gone to the original source. The current situation leaves a claim by Belarus plus screenshot plus action taken by it against claims by a Protonmail executive, the Lithuanian government and Khodorkovski shady outlet.

Is this left so to muddle the case?

ICAO also questions why it has taken so long to submit details of the threat email to the pilot. However its own report explains that the threat email was first discovered by a system administrator who had logged into the mail server from his home and informed his superior by mobile phone. That superior then informed air traffic control likewise by phone. As far as is known the ATC never saw the email and its content was provided via a phone chain. In general the information flow between authorities in Minsk and elsewhere was not optimal.

ICAO notes that the Air Traffic Controller who had talked with the Ryanair plane has vanished and could not be questioned.

The New York Times reported on December 8 2021 that the air traffic controller in question was from Georgia (the country) and had 'defected' to Poland during the summer:

Asked about the defection, Stanislaw Zaryn, director of Poland’s Department of National Security, declined to comment on specifics but said that Polish officials investigating what he described as the Ryanair “hijacking” had managed “to obtain an account of a direct witness of the actions taken at the control tower in Minsk.”

He added that, according to the witness, an officer of Belarus’s intelligence and security agency, the K.G.B., was in the control tower at the time and “at a crucial moment took control of the air traffic controller.” Throughout the incident, the Belarusian officer “maintained ongoing telephone contact with someone to whom he reported on what was currently happening with the plane,” Mr. Zaryn said.

Poland is housing several of the Belarusian opposition groups including the NEXTA channel, the outlet that directed the color revolution attempt in Belarus and recently tried the same in Kasakhstan. There is no reason to trust Poland's Department of National Security which cooperates with and finances them.

Especially not when the 'defection' was made for probably financial reasons and/or to gain a U.S. visa:

Nasha Niva, an independent news outlet whose website has been blocked by the Belarusian authorities, reported on its Telegram channel in July that Mr. Galegov had gone on vacation in June and had not been seen since. It quoted a colleague as saying that he had taken a holiday in his home country, Georgia.

Ivan Gerlovsky, deputy general director at Belaeronavigatsiya, a state company that manages air traffic control in Belarus, told the outlet that the personnel department had called Mr. Galegov’s mother-in-law in Minsk without success and was trying to establish where he was.

Belarus’s security agency, called the K.G.B., as it was when the country was part of the Soviet Union, in August signed a cooperation agreement with the security service of Georgia, another former Soviet republic — which would probably have raised the risks for Mr. Galegov if he had been in Georgia. By then, however, he had arrived in Poland. He has since left, one of the European security officials said. His current whereabouts was unclear.

Since disappearing over the summer, the air traffic controller has deleted all his social media accounts.

With a view to defection, he initially contacted the U.S. embassy in Warsaw but was steered by the Americans toward the Polish authorities, the European security officials said. The U.S. embassy in Warsaw declined to comment.

The man has since vanished without leaving a trace. But wait, says the Times, there is even more secret service nonsense:

Suspicions that Belarusian security services had orchestrated the hoax were strengthened by the previously unreported findings of a separate investigation by the police and the prosecutor general’s office in Lithuania. Their inquiries found that a passenger who disembarked after the plane landed in Minsk was a Belarusian man believed to have been recruited by his country’s military intelligence service.

That man, identified as Siarhei Kulakou by Lithuanian investigators, arrived in Vilnius a day before Mr. Protasevich took an outbound flight to Athens for a vacation, and then joined the dissident on the return flight to Vilnius a week later.

To this circumstantial evidence of a secret operation by Mr. Lukashenko’s security services, however, has now been added the testimony of the defector and recordings he bought with him to Poland that establish how the operation went down in the Minsk control tower, the security officials said.

Circumstantial evidence and a witness that has vanished are not a sound foundation for making a convincing case.

The NYT then repeats the false claim that Roman Protasevich was immediately arrested after the plane landed:

As soon as the plane landed, Belarusian security agents grabbed Mr. Protasevich and Ms. Sapega. Since then, the two have been seen only at a news briefing staged by the Belarusian authorities in June and in government-issued videos in which they confessed, apparently under duress, to organizing “mass unrest.”

An opposition Russian news outlet, Dozhd, reported on Sunday that Belarus had filed formal criminal charges against Ms. Sapega that mean she could face at least six years in prison.

Mr. Protasevich’s whereabouts and fate are not known.

The TV documentation (scroll down) made about the case includes the CCTV footage from the airport which proves that Protasevich and Sapega were arrested during the passport check.

Protasevich, who has since spilled the beans about the opposition, is alive and well and on January 18 was active on Twitter:

Well, friends. I decided to slowly return to Twitter after a long break. For a long time, as you noticed, I didn't write anything. And this was due to the fact that I was moving away from news, negativity and information noise. And it helped :)
And, in fact, it's a very cool feeling. When, after a long stay (the last couple of years) in the information field (both in tvi and in TG), which is completely saturated with negativity, you return to normal emotions and normal life - the difference becomes noticeable.
Well, in the near future in my life there will be some changes, which I will definitely talk about here. In the meantime, write your assumptions in the comments under this post - let's see which of you is closest to the truth :)

His most recent tweet is this one:


I have so far seen no deeper 'western' reports about the ICAO report. That may well be because it does not support the 'western' narrative that it was Belarus which forced the plane down.

A sign for that the report is not welcome is the diversion the U.S. created on December 20 just as the ICAO report was send to all its member states:

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Thursday against several Belarusian government officials for allegedly plotting to divert a Lithuania-bound aircraft to a Minsk airport so a dissident and his girlfriend could be arrested there.

The international episode that has resulted in an air piracy case was centered on a plan by the officials to report a fake bomb threat to apprehend anti-government media personality Roman Protasevich by forcing his flight to make an emergency landing at an airport within Belarus’s jurisdiction on May 23.
“Not only is what took place a reckless violation of U.S. law, it’s extremely dangerous to the safety of everyone who flies in an airplane,” Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office said in a statement. “The next pilot who gets a distress call from a tower may doubt the authenticity of the emergency — which puts lives at risk.”

Why the U.S. claims to have jurisdiction in the case is beyond me. How it ever wants to prove its accusation is likewise unexplainable.

While the ICAO report leaves a few issues open it does not provide any evidence that Belarus created the bomb threat or has otherwise acted in bad faith.

Posted by b on January 27, 2022 at 17:21 UTC | Permalink


Some is going to get a stern talking-to.

Posted by: Feral Finster | Jan 27 2022 17:38 utc | 1

The most probable reaction of western governments:
Impose more sanctions in order to drown out reporting on the report itself.
Lifting sanction and apologizing ist completely out of question.

Posted by: someone other | Jan 27 2022 17:39 utc | 2

Does proof/evidence matters to the West? Whatever proof anyone the West designates as enemy or opposition provides will not change the narrative.

Posted by: Steve | Jan 27 2022 18:36 utc | 3

From the the ICAO Report:
"FFIT was not able to verify that the first email was effectively received at 09:25 UTC (12:25 local) as the authorities of Belarus did not provide logs of the email server nor the email files containing the threat messages saved in their original format including their metadata, citing their erasure in accordance with their data retention policy."
This for me does not sound very plausible. Do they delete their emails within hours? Are there no techniques to reconstruct them?

Posted by: Jan | Jan 27 2022 18:43 utc | 4

Great follow-up to your original reporting on the matter.

The USA is.... oh never mind.

Go Niners!

Posted by: gottlieb | Jan 27 2022 18:44 utc | 5

The pot calling the kettle black:

On 1 July 2013, president Evo Morales of Bolivia, who had been attending a conference of gas-exporting countries in Russia, gave an interview to the RT television network in which he appeared predisposed to offer asylum to Edward Snowden.[1] The day after his TV interview, Morales' Dassault Falcon 900 FAB-001, carrying him back to La Paz from Moscow, took off from Vnukovo Airport, flew uninterrupted over Poland and the Czech Republic, but unexpectedly landed in Vienna, Austria.

According to Bolivia, the flight was rerouted to Austria when France, Spain and Italy[2] denied access to their airspace, allegedly due to suspicions that Snowden was on board.

On 3 July, Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, acknowledged that the U.S. had been "in contact with a range of countries across the world who had any chance of having Mr. Snowden land or even transit through their countries".

Grounding of Morales' plane "reveals the true nature of the relationship between Western Europe and the United States" as "a phone call from U.S. intelligence was enough to close the airspace to a booked presidential flight, which has immunity"

Posted by: Faraday | Jan 27 2022 18:52 utc | 6

So the plane wasn't forced down, but rather tricked into landing at Minsk. Who cares.
All these people in the comment section saying "Yeah! The West was WRONG again!" are so naive and near-sighted. No-one asking himself who in God's name found it necessary to send anonymous mails with bomb threats?

Posted by: Mister Sir | Jan 27 2022 18:56 utc | 7

@Jan #4,
From the report:
"according to the Department of Cybersecurity and Information Technology of Minsk National Airport, messages on the said email address are only stored for seven days, after which they are automatically overwritten. "
"the authorities of Belarus did not provide logs of the email server nor the email files containing the threat messages saved in their original format including their metadata, citing their erasure in accordance with their data retention policy."

Posted by: Brendan | Jan 27 2022 19:03 utc | 8

Even after the ICAO's rejection of the "forced diversion" story, this is what CBC News (Canada's publicly owned news and information service) published:

"Ryanair Flight 4978 had been bound from Athens to Lithuania on May 23, 2021, when a Belarusian fighter jet forced it to divert and land in Minsk."

If the journalist had read the report, he would have seen (on p. 16) that the MIG-29 never got to more than 55 km from the passenger plane, by which time the latter aircraft landed in Minsk.

Not surprising either that Wikipedia still reports today that it was a "forced landing" and that the "flight was escorted to Minsk by a Belarusian fighter jet".

Posted by: Brendan | Jan 27 2022 19:05 utc | 9

saw the headline on MSM about the extraterritorial indictment. thought b would cover the story. indeed he did.

Posted by: mastameta | Jan 27 2022 19:14 utc | 10

Ryanair is based in Ireland.

What should be the main point in this is US self appointed universal jurisdiction. "U.S. charges Belarus officials with aircraft piracy over diverted Ryanair flight"

Same story also here
"According to the prosecutors, passengers were ordered onto airport buses and detained at the terminal, where Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were led away.

The US Department of Justice said the defendants include Leonid Mikalaevich Churo and Oleg Kazyuchits, respectively the director general and deputy director general of Belarus' state air navigation authority; and Belarus state security officers Andrey Anatolievich Lnu and Fnu Lnu.

All remain at large. They were charged in a one-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit air piracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

US Attorney Damian Williams in a statement said the defendants undermined global efforts to keep the skies safe "to further the improper purpose of repressing dissent and free speech.""

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 27 2022 19:16 utc | 11

@ Brendan | Jan 27 2022 19:03 utc | 8
seven days from which for six they knew the importance of these emails?

Posted by: Jan | Jan 27 2022 19:58 utc | 12

The USA will probably file the (ICAO) report in the same category as the OPCW's Douma report in Syria, in putting it across that (ICAO) personnel working on it are wrong, watch this space they'll soon be fired, or possibly be forced to retract. Sanction will remain on Belarus, and its people will probably incur more in the near future.

However well done on digging down for the info and posting it for us, many thanks.

Posted by: Republicofscotland | Jan 27 2022 20:34 utc | 13

@ Jen #12,
Everyone knew by then about the significance of the e-mails but nobody asked the Belorussans to preserve the original data. Minsk gave details after five days about the times they were sent. See "12:25 и в 12:56" at

Before the ICAO report was released I thought it was a trivial task to verify when an email is sent. It appears now that without direct access to the servers, we have to rely on Protonmail for that information in this case.

Posted by: Brendan | Jan 27 2022 20:39 utc | 14

I'm sure Minsk has the metadata as does protonmail. Problem is that once it's in the open everything else that'll support or refute it could be disappeared or faked post-facto given the resources of the establishment that wants to pin this on Belarus.

Only way is to secure the metadata with an agreement to "I'll show you mine if you show me yours at the same time".

In other words - fat chance.

You can get any two-bit dissident to accuse their own mother of being a communist mass murderer if you wave a visa in front of their face. We have seen this movie a thousand times from Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia, Belarus, China, Hong Kong ad nauseum....

For example, i still have the misfortune to have daily dealings with fools who maintain that the Hong Kong police massacred hundreds to rioters during the 2019 unrest. The silver lining here is that some of these muppets are moving to the UK soon. Good riddance. I hope the brits who bought into the narrative enjoy their BS vigils and protests at Trafalgar Square.

Until the demise of the hegemon when people in poorer countries don't see a visa to the west is the ticket to success, nothing will change.

Posted by: A.L. | Jan 27 2022 20:39 utc | 15

Western lies drive world to World War 3

Wikipedia defines its Reliable Sources as those publications that systematically lie about Russia.

The two central anti-Russian lies are the war in Donbass and the Maidan sniper massacre. According to the Western narrative Russians or "pro-Russians" attacked and invaded Donbass, when in fact it was the Ukrainian Army and their Anti-Terrorist Operation that attacked and invaded the Donbass "republics" in order to establish the Maidanite regime in the territories.

Euromaidan was from the very beginning an anti-Russian pogrom. The plan was to wage a genocidal war against "Russians" and Russian speakers, but limited to the territory of Ukraine. The Maidan sniper massacre was a false-flag attack, where the organizers of Maidan shot and killed their own supporters and then blamed it Yanukovych and Putin. Even Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton knew this but kept it a secret. Idiots do not understand that lies like this will lead to World War 3.

There are two Western investigation I am aware of on the Maidan massacre. The first one was carried out by me and Adam Larson in the spring of 2014. We did forensic analysis based on open source material. Our conclusion was that the lethal shots were fired from Hotel Ukraine, which was at the time controlled by Maidanites, George Soros and possibly the CIA. Most of our source material and analysis can be found here. Our key conclusions were published by Adam Larson in Oriental Review. (It is interesting that Facebook now prevents me from sharing the link. Use this mirror if you want to share.)

Who was Maidan snipers’ mastermind?

But then the current Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council – Andriy Parubiy – stepped forward, hinting at a divergent probe delving further into fantasy. His investigation blames Russia and Vladimir Putin for the snipers, even though it was Parubiy – not Putin – who was supposed to secure the “EuroMaidan” where, the evidence increasingly says, the problem snipers operated.

Ukrainian-Canadian professor Ivan Katchanovski has studied the massacre based on Ukrainian court documents. His latest article on the topic was published last week in Canadian Dimension.

The hidden origin of the escalating Ukraine-Russia conflict

Various evidence presented in studies I have authored, which has been echoed by many other Western scholars who research these issues, show that both of these narratives are inaccurate. Indeed, the question of which side carried out the “snipers’ massacre” is central to understanding one of the “bloodiest and most controversial hours of European conflict since the end of the Cold War,” and the main tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. According to testimonies by over 100 wounded protesters, several dozen prosecution witnesses, and forensic ballistic and medical examinations by government experts, the massacre of the absolute majority of protesters and police at the Maidan (central square) in Kyiv on February 20, 2014 was perpetrated principally by members of the Maidan opposition, specifically its far-right elements. This event precipitated the violent removal of the corrupt and oligarchic but democratically elected government in Ukraine, touching off a conflict which has since killed more than 13,000 people. Western governments were at least aware of, or de facto backed, the overthrow.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jan 27 2022 20:42 utc | 16

There will always be new lies to take the place of the old lies. The Daily Beast is reporting on the 'Russian' Neo-Nazi gangs in Donbas, run by the dreaded Wagner group. Here is a story on 'task group Rusich'

Who committed war crimes at the behest of Putin and are pre-positioned to create one of Russia's specialties, a false flag attack as an excuse to invade.

There are so many things wrong with this story that it is not even funny, especially the fact that almost everyone in the U.S. believes it.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Jan 27 2022 21:34 utc | 17

My opinion, after weighing all available information, is that it was indeed Belarusian KGB that has sent the fake bomb threat to divert the plane to Minsk and detain Protasevich and Sapega. Why? Because the first email has not been preserved. Had another actor been responsible for the threat, it would have been in KGB’s interest to prove that, and the first email would have been preserved on its orders. It wasn’t—because there was no first email.

On the other hand, it’s clear there was no forced landing. In any case, the charge of “air piracy” doesn’t apply. 49 U.S. Code § 46502 - Aircraft piracy refers to the Convention for the suppression of unlawful seizure of aircraft, which states (emphasis mine):

Article 1. Any person who on board an aircraft in flight:

(a) unlawfully, by force or threat thereof, or by any other form of intimidation, seizes, or exercises control of, that aircraft, or attempts to perform any such act, or

(b) is an accomplice of a person who performs or attempts to perform any such act

commits an offence (hereinafter referred to as “the offence”).

Posted by: S | Jan 27 2022 21:52 utc | 18

One of the best articles I have read on the background to Ukraine. By a former US diplomat and deserves to be widely read and shared

Posted by: Keith | Jan 27 2022 22:20 utc | 19

“Not only is what took place a reckless violation of U.S. law,

Impressive! Belarus is a de facto State of the U$A!!!

Posted by: Mann Friedmann | Jan 27 2022 22:21 utc | 20

S @ 18

Hardly proves that the Belarusian KGB sent the bomb threat merely because the email logs have been scrubbed. As b suggests it's standard procedure. No one has asked for the Protonmail logs and they were never examined by the ICAO. The Protonmail log information is only supplied through the Lithuanian gov't.

Posted by: Digital Spartacus | Jan 27 2022 22:21 utc | 21


And why, pray tell, is Belarussian airline Belavia sanctioned over this? Sanction the KGB operatives whom you suspect of sending the fake bomb threat.

KGB should have just ordered the plane down officially. The U.S. and its EU poodles effectively did just that—to a plane with a Bolivian President on board, no less—to nab a person who revealed truth about NSA’s illegal spying activities. Why can’t Belarus do the same to arrest someone who was directing a major media outlet funded by foreign governments that was systematically spreading lies about Belarussian government, inciting hatred towards it, and calling for its violent overthrow?

Posted by: S | Jan 27 2022 22:36 utc | 22

@Digital Spartacus #21

You’re right, what I wrote is certainly not a proof. Just my personal opinion based on what is known so far. KGB was an obvious suspect from the very beginning, but I left open the possibility that it was all a setup to put more sanctions on Belarus, so I deferred my judgement at the time. Now that I know that “the first email” has not been preserved, I’m convinced it was KGB. But of course it’s not a proof.

Posted by: S | Jan 27 2022 22:53 utc | 23

@19 Keith

Thanks! This is the Jack Matlock from Reagan's NSC and then ambassador to USSR? He is an invaluable resource in current times. Encourage anyone to look him up for a firsthand account of the discussions and promises regarding NATO expansion that were made when the breakup of the USSR was imminent and what was to be the post-cold-war status was being negotiated.

Posted by: ptb | Jan 27 2022 22:58 utc | 24


The West may learn to regret the day they tried to fuck with Lukashenko...

The Russian Eastern Military District has been assigned the task of maintaining international peace during the Beijing Winter Olympics. The best place to perform this task is in Belarus, near the border with Ukraine.

Russians know that the West will try to stage a provocation or war during the Olympics. This year it would take the form of a Ukrainian attack on Donbass. To prevent this, Russia has to establish escalation dominance on every level of potential escalation, from local to European to global, from tactical to strategic to nuclear. As part of this, all fleets of the Russian Navy have been ordered out to sea.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jan 27 2022 23:01 utc | 25

Wondering if this story, along with the NYT story on the Havana Syndrome, is tied in to the US-Russia negotiations.

Posted by: mpn | Jan 27 2022 23:24 utc | 26

After reading and re-reading B's post and perusing the comments, I'm starting to think the bomb threat originated with the air traffic controller Mr Galegov himself, perhaps on his own or with others who may or may not include the system administrator and/or his manager. The possibility that the air traffic controller might have been part of a plot to discredit Belarus, with Protasevich and his girlfriend being plain unlucky to have been on the Ryanair jet flying from Athens, should be investigated.

The Belarus KGB agent in the control tower might have been there as part of usual protocol or because Belarus security authorities suspected there was someone at Minks ATC feeding information to Poland that s/he should not have.

Posted by: Jen | Jan 28 2022 0:25 utc | 27

This group could as well be behind the fake bomb threat.

Hactivists say they hacked Belarus rail system to stop Russian military buildup - Ars Technica, January 24, 2022

Hacktivists in Belarus said on Monday they had infected the network of the country’s state-run railroad system with ransomware and would provide the decryption key only if Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stopped aiding Russian troops ahead of a possible invasion of Ukraine.

A representative from the group said in a direct message that the Peklo cyber campaign targets specific entities and government-run companies with the goal of pressuring the Belarus government to release political prisoners and stop Russian troops from entering Belarus to use its ground for the attacks on Ukraine.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jan 28 2022 0:28 utc | 28

Petri Krohn 25 "Russians know that the West will try to stage a provocation or war during the Olympics. This year it would take the form of a Ukrainian attack on Donbass. To prevent this, Russia has to establish escalation dominance on every level of potential escalation, from local to European to global, from tactical to strategic to nuclear. As part of this, all fleets of the Russian Navy have been ordered out to sea."

I see live fire exercises are scheduled not far off the heart of anglostan. I guess there's a thousand ways to skin a cat or the cat can be be skun/scun with a thousand cuts, but one way or anther, I suspect the anglo cat will b e skun.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 28 2022 0:39 utc | 29

@28 Petri Krohn

Well, that's original. 3 days later, doesn't look like much came of it other than reports in the US tech press, and retelling of those reports

Posted by: ptb | Jan 28 2022 1:12 utc | 30

S | 18

But the ICAO never saw the first message as it was received by Belarus in its original formatting. It was only able to verify the existence of both emails as other airports in nearby countries received them as well.

Posted by: Keith McClary | Jan 28 2022 4:07 utc | 31

@Keith, #19:

Thank you for the link to the article by Jack Matlock.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 28 2022 7:35 utc | 32

"Chinese scientists say they have proved that a hypersonic weapon could use 6G technology for communication and target detection, solving some of the blackout problems that occur at five times the speed of sound or faster."

Posted by: mastameta | Jan 28 2022 10:23 utc | 33

Putinversteher is not provocative & edgy enough anymore, the new thing is being a Lukaschenkoversteher

Posted by: Malchik Ralf | Jan 28 2022 11:50 utc | 34

@Keith McClary #31

Is this a quote from somewhere? Or is this your own commentary?

In the radio transcript, the ATC told the pilot that “airport security staff” (did not explicitly say it was Minsk airport security staff, but I think that’s obvious from the context) received an email with a bomb threat and that “this email was shared to several airports” (the timestamp is UTC):

Pilot: The message, where did it come from? Where did you have information about it from?
ATC: RYR 1TZ standby please.
ATC: 09:33:42: RYR 1TZ
Pilot: Go ahead.
ATC: RYR 1TZ airport security stuff informed they received e-mail.
Pilot: Roger, Vilnius airport security stuff or from Greece?
ATC: RYR 1TZ this e-mail was shared to several airports.

According to Dossier Center, Lithuanian state company Lithuanian Airports received the email at 12:25 Minsk time (9:25 UTC). Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority stated that no threats of any kind were received by the Greek side:

“All necessary security checks have been carried out, i. E. passengers, carry-on luggage and luggage, in accordance with the provisions of the approved security program of Athens International Airport, and there were no signs of any problems. ” “All security procedures went well and the plane took off to its destination at 10:15. While he was in the Greek FIR, there were no reports of a threat from the crew, as well as from any other natural or legal person. ” “There was no information or indication to the CAA of Athens International Airport and the State Aviation Administration AIA from an individual or service about the existence of a threat on a specific flight FR4978 ATH at VNO on 23 December. 05-21 “. “Any relevant information was received by all of the above services through the media and the Internet after the plane landed in Minsk.”

ProtonMail said—both in private communications with Bernhard and publicly—that only one email was sent to Belarus (the second one).

I was waiting for Belarus to publish the metadata (headers) of the first email to prove ProtonMail wrong, but they never did. Now they’re claiming this super-important email was simply erased. Apparently, no one deemed it important enough to preserve. That is completely unbelievable and basically an admission by Belarus that they lied and did not, in fact, receive the first email.

Which leads to the question of how did they know about the bomb threat? Perhaps someone from Lithuanian Airports has called them to warn about it? Were that the case, Belarus would have said so. Instead, they pushed the claim about the first email. So clearly they weren’t warned over the phone. Then how did they know?

Posted by: S | Jan 28 2022 12:38 utc | 35

This Belarus Ryan Air incident shows how the manufactured Ukraine "invasion" crisis is meant to happen.

Some incident will occur as a false flag or Russia trucks crossing into Donbass with regular trade will be called an "invasion".

Thousands of fake news stories and statements by USA/NATO/EU officials will be made with faked details and sanctions will be applied.

An investigation a year or more later will be made with none of the faked stories corrected and more US sanctions and legal action will occur.

The result will be INF nuclear missiles returned to Europe under the reanimated 56th Artillery Command (former atom weapon Corp) as the US puppet EU governments call for more "security from Russia aggression". The missiles (nuke or not) will also be used to threaten north Africa for the EU colonies there.

Posted by: John Law | Jan 28 2022 13:21 utc | 36

Sh@23: "KGB was an obvious suspect from the very beginning..."

Strange. I thought the CIA was the obvious suspect from the very beginning. I'll bet the poster believes the whole "color revolution" attempt was organic and genuine and that Belarus is not under "full spectrum" attack by the empire.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 28 2022 13:24 utc | 37

The accusation that the Belarusan state orchestrated the diversion of the Ryanair plane is based mainly on the the claim that it lied about receiving an email warning before passing it on (via Minsk ATC ) to the plane's pilot. As the report says:

The receipt of the first email is crucial to explain the basis for the communication of the bomb threat by Minsk ACC to the flight crew, which occurred at 09:30:49 UTC (12:30:49 local).

If Belarus didn't receive that e-mail from an external source, then there was only way it could have known about the bomb threat - that is, that Belarus itself must have invented it.

The accusation doesn't make much sense, though, because it would require some inexplicable behaviour by the Belarusan authorities. Whoever sent the e-mails - whether Belarusans or someone else - sent them to at least four airports before Minsk ATC informed the plane's pilot.

Four emails were sent separately to Vilnius, Athens, Sofia, and Bucharest airports in a period of less than three minutes, while FR4978 was flying over the airspace of Ukraine and immediately prior to entering the airspace of Belarus. The first of these emails was sent at 09:25:12, about two hours after the take-off from Athens, five minutes before crossing the common L’viv/Minsk FIR boundary into Belarus.

If it was Lukashenko's guys who sent those, how could they forget to send a copy to Minsk as well, since the aircraft was just about to enter the airspace of Belarus? According to the narrative being promoted in western media, they only remembered to do that twenty five minutes later.

I can't say for sure that the Belarussan authorities are telling the truth, but at least there's some sort of logic in the sequence of events that they have published, where Belarus also received the e-mail at the same time as the other countries.

A remaining question then would be: How did Minsk ATC know that "this e-mail was shared to … several airports". The only explanation I can think of is that Belarus was the main recipient and could see that the other airports were cc or bcc recipient. Hopefully Belarus will explain that next week when the ICAO discusses the incident.

Posted by: Brendan | Jan 28 2022 13:27 utc | 38

It is a relief to see that at least one international organisation is not totally under the thumb of the US.

BTW late last December, a Polish soldier sought political asylum in Belarus following Polish troops killing the migrants crossing from Belarus to Poland. He was in one of the border guard units.

This must be fake news as Amnesty International etc are totally quiet about this.

Posted by: Arfur Mo | Jan 28 2022 15:05 utc | 39

regarding Jack Matlock's analysis at #19, what is useful about his framing is his comparison between Ukraine and yugoslavia. pointing out that both are not nations that cohere ethnically and culturally, lacking the bonds that only time and long term institutions can develop.

the second point of comparison is how NATO treats one versus the other, promoting separatist independence in one case and speaking of territorial integrity for the other. this point also resonates with what I've heard Putin talk about. he often references the case of Kosovo in regards to Crimea, first speaking of western hypocrisy and then citing Kosovo as a precedent for Crimean self-determination. (I think that is a accurate summary of his stated position, though one can dispute the tone and how the rhetoric should be understood).

what is also interesting about Matlock's piece is how, as a former state servant, he is careful about stating outright that the MSM maidan narrative is bovine scatology, but it is clear to anyone reading between the lines. he also drops some pointed critique but in a professionally diplomatic way, never devolving into a polemic. there is not his like anymore, the people in the state dept today are all clowns

Posted by: mastameta | Jan 28 2022 16:32 utc | 40

b... thanks for the overview... the usa claims to have jurisdiction over everything! who is surprised anymore??

@ Keith | Jan 27 2022 22:20 utc | 19... excellent article... thanks for sharing that.. it is a quick and great overview... here it is again for those who missed it..

Ukraine: Tragedy of a Nation Divided

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2022 17:55 utc | 42

"Putinversteher is not provocative & edgy enough anymore, the new thing is being a Lukaschenkoversteher "

Malchik really upset that Belarus makes Ukraine look so bad, with a much higher per capita income, a far lower population decline since 1991 (7% vice 17%), and a low poverty rate Ukraine could never hope to match!

(per capita income - see chart 2)

Posted by: rkka | Jan 28 2022 18:30 utc | 43

Belarus looked like a perfect enemy: loathsome and vulnerable. Freedom loving western neighbors, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland had very satisfying fun making hapless Lukashenko run circles and the plucky oppositions, armed with super smart advise from Warsaw and Vilnius, was outwitted again and again. Now it looks a bit different, our trio as at it again. For Latvia, it is time to be bold, to make a stand. I am pasting consecutive items from Google News:

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sending anti-armour and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

Latvia's Defense Minister Defends Military Aid To Kyiv, Says West Not A Threat To Russia
January 24, 2022 20:30 GMT
Defense Minister Says Latvia Supplying Missiles, Rations To Ukraine's Army

FT January 28, 5am UST (still having a bit of fun, PB)
Latvia slams Germany’s ‘immoral’ relationship with Russia and China
Defence minister says Berlin is undermining European unity in face of Moscow’s aggression

POLITICO, around the same time (hard to see precisely)
‘If a war starts, they will come here first’: Latvia mounts a wary border watch
Fears of war in Ukraine are sending tremors up to the Baltic.
DAUGAVPILS, Latvia — Russia’s renewed saber-rattling toward Ukraine and its troop movements through Belarus have sent a chill through its Baltic neighbors.
Recap: Latvia sends the best weapons to Ukraine, stands tall to Belarus, Russia, Germany and China, and becomes .... very afraid?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 28 2022 19:53 utc | 44

regarding the threat of sanctions, what sanctions could be applied to russia have already been applied, short of the unfeasible nuclear option. the US is neither miserly nor disciplined in its doling out of sanctions heh. done it.

and since annexing crimea, the russia economy is more diverse and self dependent, and can look to the Chinese market.

which is all to say that US sanctions are just political theater now, more targeted at keeping Europe in the US fold than harming Russia per se.

theatrical prizes only.

on the idea of a Putin trap, however it plays out, I've been returning to the Russian expression that the US is not agreement capable. beyond the surface meaning that it is untrustworthy and treacherous, another implication comes to mind now: that it is incapable of reaching an agreement even if it would be for its own good. it would sooner precipitate its own demise than compromise.
if you run a thousand simulations of this week, there is no alternate reality in which the US coukd ever accomodate Russia's concerns. (or shore up the Russian front in order to confront china.)

in this respect it is a trap, one in which the US is institutionally incapable of doing differently than it does.
for Putin and observers, the US' moves, in its broad contours, are inexorable and inevitable, no one can stop the US, not even itself. its rather terrifying in that way. it's like knowing the prophecy and being unable to resist fulfilling it.

Posted by: mastameta | Jan 28 2022 21:04 utc | 45

@William Gruff #37:

Strange. I thought the CIA was the obvious suspect from the very beginning.

For the first time in history a plane overflying Belarus has been diverted to Minsk, and two foreign-funded anti-Belarussian propagandists/criminals wanted by Belarussian authorities just happen to be on that very flight. What a coincidence! Not. Clearly, the fake bomb threat was sent with the goal of putting Protasevich and Sapega in the hands of Belarussian authorities, so it’s natural to suspect them—specifically, the KGB, as it is the KGB that would be tasked with such an operation. Of course, it could also be a CIA operation to flush their puppets who were no longer useful (or were suspected of being double agents) down the toilet and use the incident to put more sanctions on Belarus. That is why I reserved my judgement at the time. I thought that Belarus would publish the first email in raw format with headers at an appropriate time, but they didn’t. And now they claim it was erased. Archiving one frigging email that was probably about 1 KB in size would cost them nothing and would prove their version of events—“We received the email and had to act!”—whether they were behind the fake threat or not. The fact that they didn’t strongly implies they never received it.

I'll bet the poster believes the whole "color revolution" attempt was organic and genuine and that Belarus is not under "full spectrum" attack by the empire.

You will lose that bet. However, just because I support Belarus against the West’s aggression it doesn’t mean I will stay silent when I think Belarussian authorities are lying.

Posted by: S | Jan 29 2022 11:00 utc | 46

Heads will roll for this at the ICAO. As many times as necessary. Ask the OPCW.

Posted by: fx | Jan 29 2022 22:55 utc | 47

The main conclusion is that Belarus did not violate any rules. That should be enough for official policy decisions but it is not.

The main narrative is that Belarus tricked the plane: they sent emails to themselves, then deliberately gave more credibility to the email than it deserved based on the content they wrote themselves, then made up extra arguments which were not in the mail to make the plane land in Minsk rather than elsewhere, then against all normal behaviour immediately boarded the plane to take Protasevich, then barely bothered to search for explosives, and then made the secret agents disappear they had on the plane. Also a lot of people were knowingly involved in ATC, in the military, on the plane. The 'forcing down the plane' theory is piled on top of that: being so eager to get Protasevich-or his friend- that they did so by force and violated agreed upon rules.

A lot then depends on where you are coming from: Belarus has a bad reputation so it is treated as guilty until proven innocent. That means there is a lot of room for retreat while still maintaining Belarus' guilt: the minimal interference theory would be that it would have been enough to send the threatening email for the whole system to take care of the rest by themselves. Nobody needs to be told. It is very hard to prove who sent the protonmail or who is secretly behind the person sending the protonmail.

On top of this theory then there is a 'huge oversight': they forgot to send the mail to themselves. There are mails which did not arrive but here we need a mail which was not sent. Then they quickly faked a picture of it and they also faked a file on the server - because the visiting inspectors have seen the mail on the server. It is only later when ICAO requested a copy that they did not get it , as they did not get other recordings. This 'smoking gun' is not essential for the minimal theory: you can still retreat further , concede the mail was actually sent, but still maintain that the senders were from Belarus secret service.

The other part of Belarus' bad reputation is the motivating part, that we readily assume they thought it was really worthwhile to capture Protasevich as an end in itself and accept the consequences. Similarly to CW use in Syria, this position is supposed to be utterly oblivious to the unanimous point of view on our side that the capture of Protasevich as a much needed golden opportunity to mobilise against Belarus. Viacorka even started capitalizing on that opportunity before Protasevich was captured.

So we now have sanctions against Belarus and I am sure our side will defend this position because Belarus has not fully proven its innocence in this case, and not because they violated any rules. Well, they did capture Protasevich which violates our rules. But the asymmetry of the position is important and even if the narrative falls apart this does not reverse the political shifts which have happened.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 31 2022 10:54 utc | 48

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