Belarus Threatens to Flood Europe with 'Migrants and Drugs' Over Sanctions
Dictator Alexander Lukashenko blasts EU after being hit over plane hijacking
Belarus has responded to sanctions imposed by the European Union by threatening to flood Europe with "migrants and drugs."
The EU and Western nations have placed sanctions on Belarus after the Eastern European country recently hijacked a Ryanair flight.
After EU leaders cut off air travel with his country and threatened further sanctions, Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko told parliament that he plans to weaken border controls designed to catch drug and people smugglers.
"We were stopping migrants and drugs - now you will [have to] catch them and eat them yourself," he said.
It comes after world leaders including Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron lined up to condemn Lukashenko for the hijacking, calling it an "outrageous" act and vowing "consequences."
On Sunday, Lukashenko diverted a Ryanair flight to Minsk so he could arrest a dissident journalist and his girlfriend.
EU leaders subsequently advised all airlines to avoid Belarus airspace while moving to ban flights from the country entering the bloc, potentially costing the regime tens of millions in lost revenue per year, according to The Daily Mail.
"Targeted" sanctions against members of Lukashenko's government are also being prepared, the EU said, in addition to long-standing sanctions on the regime.
The UN security council is also due to meet in a closed-door session today to discuss the issue further.
But Lukashenko appeared unbothered as he gave a fiery address to parliament today - insisting that he acted "in line with the law" when he diverted the flight as it crossed his airspace.
According to Lukashenko, the diversion had nothing to do with Roman or Sofia and actually took place after a bomb threat was issued out of Switzerland.
The Swiss deny ever sending a bomb warning.
Officials had earlier said the threat originated from Hamas.
"How were we supposed to act," Lukashenko asked.
"My post requires me to protect people.
"I was thinking about the safety of the country.
"I could not allow the plane to fall on our people's heads.
"I acted in line with the law, protecting my people.
"And I will continue to do so."
He went on to claim that he was particularly concerned about a nuclear plant along the plane's flight path, worrying that wreckage could hit it and spark a "second Chernobyl."
He said: "Was Chernobyl not enough?
"If there was a bomb on board the plane and terrorists wanted to blow it up, we couldn’t really have helped.
"But I couldn’t let the plane fall on our people’s heads."
Russia, a key ally of Belarus, said it had "no reason to mistrust" Lukashenko's claim regarding the forced landing.