The United States on Friday moved to sanction Belarus following the forced diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight and arrest of a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, who was a passenger on the plane. Various other governments have rebuked Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his regime in the wake of the incident, as well, and while he recently warned the harsh responses could spark another world war, he seemed unfazed on Saturday while he was hanging out with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Intercepting the Ryanair flight indicated that Lukashenko — who, prior to arresting Protasevich, spent months cracking down on protests against his regime — was prepared to forego any appearance of ties with the European Union, and his meet-up with Putin did little to dispel that theory. The two were filmed, in what has been described as a (mostly inaudible) “painfully forced PR show,” conversing jovially on Putin’s yacht near Sochi, as they watched dolphins and had a meal with Lukashenko’s son.
Lukashenko’s team released a completely inaudible video from his meeting with Putin aboard Putin’s yacht in Sochi. Lukashenko was accompanied by his son, which just makes the painfully forced PR show even more awkward. https://t.co/z9EOf9eLle
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) May 29, 2021
Putin and Lukashenko bro-ing out in Sochi today, enjoying some dolphins from the deck of the Russian president’s yacht. Meanwhile, dozens of political prisoners caught up in their crackdowns are languishing in Russian and Belarusian jails. pic.twitter.com/Xc9D1iCkRo
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 29, 2021