MINSK, May 23. /TASS/. Belarus’ defense ministry has confirmed that a MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled on Sunday to escort the Ryanair passenger plane that made emergency landing at Minsk’s airport.
"After the polit of this civil aircraft (the Ryanair plane - TASS) decided to land at an alternate airport (Minsk-2) and turned the plane towards Minsk, it was decided to scramble a MiG-29 crew on duty from the Baranovichi airport (Brest region)," the ministry said on its Telegram channel, citing Andrei Gurtsevich, chief of the air operations and first deputy commander of Belarus air and air defense forces.
According to Gurtsevich, the country’s air defense forces were put on high alert following reports that a civil plane with a possible bomb onboard was in the country’s airspace. He said that the MiG-29 crew was tasked to control the situation and help the civil aircraft make safe landing at the Minsk airport. After the Ryanair plane landed, the fighter jet returned to its hope airport.
Belarus’ air and air defense forces "always ready to repel any threat in the country’s airspace and they are always ready to help any aircraft in case of emergencies or force majeure circumstance," he stressed.
The Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius made an emergency landing at Minsk’s airport after the pilots had reported a bomb threat.
It was reported after the plane’s landing that former editor-in-chief of the Nexta Telegram channel, which had been recognized as extremist in Belarus, Romat Protasevich was among the passengers. The man was detained.