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NATO to discuss further action against Belarus in mid-June

NATO countries will discuss further measures against Belarus following the force landing of a passenger jet last month in a summit set for mid-June in Brussels, the alliance’s secretary general said Wednesday.

Jens Stoltenberg said they will discuss with NATO member states the alliance’s 2030 vision during the summit and the alliance condemned the forced landing of the plane by Belarus with a strongly-worded statement.

Speaking in London at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Stoltenberg said sanctions introduced against the Minsk regime would need to be implemented and NATO allies are looking to whether further sanctions can be imposed.

He also pointed out that the grounding of Ryanair jet would be taken up in the NATO summit, hinting the further response could include Russia as they work with Belarus “closely.”

Reminding the NATO countries’ support for the UK and expulsion of Russian diplomats after the Salisbury attack in March 2018, Johnson said: “We would like to make sure to work together to defend and protect ourselves against cyber threats, against all kinds of intimidation some members still feel; they are on NATO’s eastern borders.”

Johnson also said the member states would work together to press on Belarus to release Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend.

The Ryanair flight heading from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Belarus on the pretext of a bomb threat on May 23.

A Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane to the Minsk airport, where authorities detained Protasevich, a journalist they said was wanted for involvement in a “terrorist incident,” and his companion Sofia Sapega.

The EU, NATO, and US also condemned the forced landing.

Stoltenberg will also meet British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and National Security Advisor Stephen Lovegrove during his London visit.

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