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Fri May 28, 2021, 03:07 PM

Putin praises closer ties with Belarus in Lukashenko talks

President Vladimir Putin praised Russia's closer ties with Belarus on Friday as he hosted strongman Alexander Lukashenko amid a global outcry following the forced diversion of a European plane.

Observers will watch the negotiations to see how far Russia goes to support Lukashenko's regime after Belarus scrambled a Mig jet to divert a Ryanair jet and arrest an opposition journalist onboard last Sunday.

Following the Ryanair plane's forced diversion, the European Union urged EU-based carriers to avoid Belarusian airspace and promised fresh sanctions against Lukashenko and regime officials.

Putin warmly greeted Lukashenko in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, saying he was "very glad" to see him and the two should go for a swim.


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