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Travelers outside of the Domodedovo Airport outside of Moscow in April 2021. Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia Thursday blocked at least two European planes from landing in Moscow because they planned to avoid Belarusian airspace after Belarus diverted a Lithuania-bound flight to detain a government dissident on Monday, U.S. News reports.

Why it matters: The move comes after the EU told European airlines not to fly over Belarus, and appears to seek to undermine the bloc's response to the country's strongman leader Aleksandr Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Context: EU leaders have described Lukashenko ordering the diversion of the Ryanair flight to arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich as a "hijacking," as did the CEO of Ryanair.

  • Lukashenko claimed this week the action was necessary to quell a bomb threat.
  • The UN's civil aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said in a statement the landing "could be in contravention of the Chicago Convention," a treaty protecting airspace sovereignty.
  • The EU, in addition to telling European airlines not to fly over Belarus, banned Belarusian airlines and promised more economic sanctions on the country.

The big picture: Russia on Thursday blocked an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna and an Air France flight from Paris from landing in Moscow.

  • The Kremlin denied any involvement in the detention of Pratasevich but did not criticize Lukashenko's actions.

Go deeper ... Biden: U.S. will coordinate with the EU on Belarus response

Go deeper

May 26, 2021 - World

Belarus leader Lukashenko accuses EU of "hybrid war" over response to hijacking

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Photo: SIARHEI LESKIEC/AFP via Getty Images

Belarus strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko, who diverted a passenger airplane carrying a journalist and government dissident on board this week, defended his actions Wednesday as necessary to quell a bomb threat, AP reports.

Why it matters: The incident, which EU leaders have called a "hijacking," has drawn international condemnation and further isolated Lukashenko, who is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator."

Breeze Airways to target domestic leisure travel market in first flights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Breeze Airways is about to take off. The new low-cost airline will operate its first flights on May 27.

Why it matters: The airline sprang to life just in time to take advantage of historic pandemic-induced dislocations in the air travel market.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

NTSB probes crash that killed 10 in Alabama as storm lashes Southeast

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's investigating a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash in Alabama that killed 10 people, including nine children, as storms swept the Southeast.

The big picture: Saturday's crash on Interstate 65, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" over the weekend, per AP.