Lukashenko bets on annexed Crimea opening its sky for flights from Belarus

·1-min read
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers a speech during a meeting in Minsk

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has refused to recognise Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, said on Tuesday that Minsk was working with Moscow about starting flights to Crimea from Belarus.

The national airline of land-locked Belarus is at risk of sanctions by the European Union after a Ryanair flight was pressed to land in Minsk on May 23 to arrest a dissident journalist and his girlfriend.

"Ukraine has closed the sky to us. We have our own sanatorium in Crimea ... where people always used to go, fly. In order not to aggravate relations, we travelled there through Ukraine ... Now they have closed the sky," Belta news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, drawing sanctions and condemnation from the West. Kyiv wants the territory back.

"I told (Russian President Vladimir) Putin: 'You think how we can get to Crimea. We are not going to fly through Poland: they do not allow us to go there either," Belta reported, citing Lukashenko.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Grant McCool)