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EU is punishing Belarus with economic sanctions for grounding a plane to arrest a journalist, as well as blacklisting certain individuals from entering its territory and freezing their assets.

Why is this incident being treated much more harshly than when the USA attempted to ground a plane allegedly with Edward Snowden on board?

I would expect the Evo Morales incident to be treated much more seriously, because it was a presidential flight, which should enjoy immunity, as opposed to grounding a plane with civilians, which damnable as it is, is not as diplomatically damaging.

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    "being treated" by whom? Surely it is not surprising that Italy is not treating France "harshly" because Italy was one of the countries that closed its airspace. It's not surprising that Germany is not treating its close allies France and Italy harshly because "close allies" It's not surprising that Russia and Bolivia were both pretty upset with this incident. Far more upset than they are with Belarus.
    – James K
    Jun 20, 2021 at 12:57
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    @JoeC Any political question may be seen by someone as an attempt do discredit something. Jun 20, 2021 at 14:11
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    @JamesK specifically what I want to understand is why the United States were not sanctioned for this attempt Jun 20, 2021 at 14:12
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    There is really no comparison between (1) denying a plane access to a nation's sovereign airspace, and (2) using military jets to force a plane to land within a nation's sovereign territory. The first is right laid out in international conventions and treaties since the beginnings of commercial air travel; the second is a violation of those conventions and treaties, equivalent to hijacking. Jun 20, 2021 at 14:24
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    @RuslanOblov The USA was not directly involved. The flight did not approach US airspace. The US military (which does of course have a presence among the NATO allies) was not involved. Perhaps the USA put a phonecall through to Italy and France to say "It would be great if..." It is all rather speculative. Similarly Russia is not directly involved in the Belarus forced landing. And so the sanctions have been against Belarus instead of Russia. Why didn't Russia impose sanctions on France and Italy? Probably such sanctions would have hurt Russia more than France.
    – James K
    Jun 20, 2021 at 15:22

1 Answer 1

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  • The Snowden case involved the aircraft of the Bolivian president.
    The Protasevich case involved a commercial airliner.
    There seems to be some ambiguity just how much ICAO rules apply to government aircraft.
  • The Bolivian government was denied overflight by several countries and thus found no other option but to request landing permission when fuel ran low.
    The Ryanair airliner had almost almost completely passed through Belarus airspace and was then forced back.
  • France, Spain, Portugal and Italy refused an overflight permission.
    Belarussian authorities invented a bomb threat, yet did not permit the aircraft to land at the nearest airport.

If you look for a comparison, it might be better to look at EgyptAir 2843 in 1985.

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    Frankly it's not even clear the fuel on the Bolivian plane ran low. They had enough to reach some Spanish islands in the Atlantic on their initial plan. When they landed in Austria, they claimed some issue with the fuel gauge, which magically repaired itself once on the ground. The whole thing was more like so Morales could claim he was "kidnapped" by Europeans. And the only country that actually refused overflight (and apologized for that later) was France. Jun 20, 2021 at 13:36
  • @Fizz, I don't know how long they circled, sorting things out.
    – o.m.
    Jun 20, 2021 at 13:45
  • Not much: "According to records of the plane's flight path, it travelled from Russia into Belarus, then over Poland and the Czech Republic until it entered Austrian airspace. Midway over Austria, the plane turned west, then doubled back before landing. [...] If it was rerouted from its original path, that only occurred once the plane was in Austria." There was link to the flight path in article but it's not working for me anymore. Jun 20, 2021 at 13:48
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    Also, the claim that the plane was searched was also somewhat contradicted in later reporting. reuters.com/article/… "“Someone from the airport staff sought out the aircraft or the pilot after landing to inquire about the nature of the technical problem,” Fischer was quoted as saying. “The Austrian official was advised that the defect was already fixed, and saw on this occasion that the plane was empty ... He did not look under the seats. There was no formal inspection, but no other people were found on board,” Fischer added." Jun 20, 2021 at 13:49
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    'There seems to be some ambiguity just how much ICAO rules apply to government aircraft.' Is that so? Article 3 of the Chicago Convention draws a clear distinction between civil and state aircraft? Are there other conventions that apply to state aircraft?
    – JJJ
    Jun 20, 2021 at 22:41

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