About this event


  • Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Republic of Lithuania
  • Bogdan Klich, Member of the Senate and Head of the Commission on the Foreign Affairs, Poland
  • Joerg Forbrig, Senior Fellow and Director for Central and Eastern Europe, GMF Berlin


  • Veronica Laputska, Rethink.CEE Research Fellow, GMF Warsaw

On May 23 Europe witnessed an unprecedented event—the leader of the Belarusian regime Alexander Lukashenka sent a fighter jet to intercept a European airliner traveling from Athens to Vilnius through the country’s airspace and ordered a forceful landing in its capital, Minsk, under an alleged security threat. The real aim, however, was to detain a Belarusian political journalist Raman Pratasevich and his travel partner Sofia Sapega.

The diversion of the plane not only threatened the lives of 171 passengers and the crew, mostly EU citizens who have been interrogated and terrified by the situation, but it also revealed the scale of Lukashenka's perception of his regime’s omnipotence. Intervening with the trajectory of the EU passenger flight, using the assistance of the Belarusian KGB and most likely their Russian counterparts, Lukashenka believed that there would not be any severe consequences.  

Yet, the EU has already taken strong measures calling for the blockade of the Belarusian airspace and the Belarusian airlines Belavia and preparing the fourth package of sanctions. Additionally, the U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the forceful diversion of the plane and welcomed the news on the upcoming economic sanctions from the EU.  

Following these events, GMF is inviting you to a discussion with prominent voices from Vilnius, Warsaw, and Berlin. The discussion will focus on further Western reactions which would ensure that clear signals targeted at Lukashenka and his government remain consistent and become a turning point for the regime.  

If you have any questions, please contact Monika Bickauskaite at [email protected].